Earlier I wrote a reflection entitled; “The Attraction to Deadly Sin”. I covered some various sections from the CCC and assorted personal thoughts relating to sin. However, this addition to or relative thinking may be a little more personal and certainly may touch on the very presence of the Holy Spirit within these pages.
First, let’s just look at sin from a practical view, i.e. an individual persons view of what sin is about and how easy it is to overlook the consequences of little by little sinking into the mire and depth of a common malady we as humans find ourselves becoming part of.
As we grow up the teaching from our parents or some guardians will attempt to instill within us a pure and untouched existence. At first their approach appears to work until one day they hear a foul word coming from an innocent child’s mouth, or the abrupt pronouncement of a stern NO to a simple directive from those who are guiding the child. What just happened; our response declares? We’ve taken such care to keep this child from hearing these words, or teaching them to say please and thank you.
We may search the past that might have induced these strong and unwelcome words or responses but usually to no avail. Be sure of this children learn quickly and seem to retain these little nuances that bother us and once they’ve retained these images the child holds onto many things we don’t approve of.
What about us, the adults, parents, and/or guardians who also should remember our own period of growth and maturity? Maybe no one ever brought to our attention the times we refused to listen to them or became headstrong in seeking our own individual way. I remember my mother constantly telling me to quit running around the yard from a level backyard to the precarious front steps made of flagstones. I thought it was fun and funny as well until one trip around found me falling headlong down the stone steps and getting bruised and knocking one or more teeth out. A good case of refusing to listen to the words of wisdom from my mother. I paid dearly, but got over it. It did, however, teach me a lesson.
Our advancement into adulthood should become a smooth and pure trek, but that isn’t the case for most people. Along the way we find a lot of steep steps that must be transgressed carefully and we should look for those words of wisdom to assist us in staying on the narrow path. Of course, like a small child starting to stand and then progressing in an attempt to take their first step, we are ready to grab them when they begin to totter and always fear they may hit a table or some obstruction that could easily bruise or severely injure them, on their way down. But, we do let them fail at their first encounters with this new mode of life; standing up straight and walking. If we are constantly ready to catch them not allowing them to fail in an attempt to move on we do them a great disservice and teach them they are not allowed to fail.
It brings to mind a certain person in my life who is a severe alcoholic and although he is taken care of by my wife and me there is a point where we shouldn’t be the catchers each time he fails, which is often. He has come to the point where its ok to fall off the wagon so to speak, and call for help each time to pick him up. Love is great, but a tough love is better. Do we throw him out because he can’t stand on his own? No, but we do need to let him fall and get up on his own. Like the small child we allow to fall and learn how to stand alone, our task should be to do the same with our son.
This scenario makes me think about how easy it can become for any of us to fall into entrapment of the temptations that confront us on a daily basis. We all have some condition within or around our personal struggle that is familiar and attractive in our own admission to sin and the personal attachment we have to our favorite sin. I mention favorite because no matter how much we try to avoid this and even confess it countless times the onslaught of the temptation towards the same old sin never leaves us. I don’t know where this comes from but be assured I am not alone in this wilderness of continued personal attack on my weaknesses.
Falling daily is a two-edged sword, so to speak. Without falling in the beginning of a child’s quest to walk he wouldn’t know how to stand on his own. When he does fall he’ll begin to remember each slip and prepare himself to confront the next try and little by little will learn how to use his strength and stability to enable a proud victory like saying; “Look I did it.” Maybe no one saw it but he knew he could move on. We are the same! We fall, not once or twice, but many times over and over. Perhaps at some point we shall stand and say; “look at me-I did it.” Hopefully it worked for each of us. However, on the other side of the blade one must be careful not to think I accomplished this on my own never giving the Lord credit for his Grace. Do not believe that overcoming adversities is an individual triumph. Yes, we use human endeavor and tenacity to reach above and beyond ourselves to find new light and can breath fresh air into our slumping spirits. But, in this life, created by God, and enhanced by God’s Holy Spirit, perhaps falling can open our minds to His presence to find the Grace that continually pours into our souls and we grow with each new encounter that teaches us a lesson that remains in our spirit.
Look at the many times Jesus confronted the Pharisees and Scribes, proponents of the Law, and had to admonish their ideas and criticisms for His spending time with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes. Yes, sin is grievous and has no place in the sight of God. But, it was God who encountered then and encounters now sinners who need mercy. If sin is a final declaration of our immortal soul that condemns us to Hell, then we have no hope. But, if sin opens a communication with God and his everlasting forgiveness, we have nothing but hope for eternal life.
Remember this, if we hadn’t sinned we never would have known God through Jesus Christ. I always remind people when they ask about the depth of sin; listen to the Exultet at the Easter Vigil: “O Happy fault of mine that brought Jesus to us through His Passion/Death/Resurrection.”
With sin we are admonished; with our faults we are convicted by the Holy Spirit; with sin we become the recipients of Calvary, His Blood, and Resurrection.