The gospel reading begins with questions about the nature, causality, and consequences of sin before it goes on to describe the miraculous healing of the man born blind. The gospel then follows various encounters emanating from the healing as the story becomes known in the community. There is the dialogue among the neighbors, round-1 between the man and the Pharisee, the inquisition of the parents, round-2 with the Pharisee, and finally man blind from birth, meets and sees Jesus. Continue reading
Tag Archives: sin
The heart of men
What lies in the heart of men? If we would rely on the introduction from the popular radio series the Shadow, our answer would be – “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” Given that we were created in the image and likeness of God, washed clean in the waters of Baptism, we began so hopeful, so innocent. What’s going on in the human heart? “More tortuous than anything is the human heart, Beyond remedy; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9) In the language of the Bible “heart” means the core of the self, the deepest center of who we are, that place from which our thoughts and actions arise. Today’s gospel is none too hopeful about what lies in the heart of men:
“From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7:20-22)
This is not a lone passage from Scripture which echoes such sentiment. St. Paul notes the same problem and locates it a failure to believe in and honor God. There are consequences: “God handed them over to their undiscerning mind.” (Romans 1:28) He goes onto describe the result of people looking to themselves for a moral compass:
“They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1:29-31)
If we are honest, each one of us can see something of ourselves in the list even if it is limited to envy and gossiping. What are we to do? St. Paul saw the root of the problem – the solution lies there, in your heart. Awake each day look into your heart to rediscover your love for God and give Him glory in prayer. Start each day in prayer. Each evening, examine your day and with hope pray:
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me…wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Ps 51:3-4,9)
Let these be your treasure: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:21). And in the morn, begin again.
Being Made Clean
In today’s gospel, we hear about the encounter between Jesus and a leper: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” Clearly about a physical cleansing. But all week has been about “cleansing” of different varieties.
The first readings all week (except Wednesday’s Nativity of John the Baptist) have been about God making clean the people of God. Monday the Kingdom of Israel (the 10 northern tribes who broke away from the throne of King David) was conquered by Assyria (722 BCE) as either the kings nor the people remembered or cared about the Covenant with God. And it wasn’t for lack of prophets being sent to let them know, repent or God will “clean house.” Continue reading
This week we’re continuing our reflection on the Bible’s raw and honest portrait of the human condition. We will look at the word “transgression” in the Bible, which refers to ways that people betray or violate someone’s trust. This concept provides us with an important perspective as we continue to lament and draw attention to the realities of racial injustice in our culture.It’s never pleasant to focus on our failures or the ways that we are complicit in the betrayal of others, but it’s necessary. Only then can we open ourselves up to the healing and forgiving love of God that transforms us into agents of justice and peace in our world.
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Sin in the Bible
Explore this video about the meaning of the word “sin” in the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament. The authors of the video (The Bible Project) cast the most fundamental meaning of the word as a “failure to be truly human.”
Slave or servant?
From the readings of this day’s Mass: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
I think it would interesting if everyone could sit on “the other side of the screen” for the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation; could sit where the priest sits and hear what he hears. And it is a wish not rooted in any one particular confession, one moment of sin, a moment of redemption, but rooted in what “the big picture” has to say about one part of our human condition. Continue reading
Sinning against you: church
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
We now come to the last resort, which the earlier approaches have been designed to avoid. To “tell the church” must presumably require a public statement when the community is gathered (rather than a whispering campaign). Such publicity must be avoided where possible, but may prove to be inevitable if the problem is to be solved. The object of the gathering is not to pronounce judgment but to strengthen the pastoral appeal, in the hope that the offender may yet “listen” (akouo). The offender, faced by the disapproval of the whole local disciple community, ought surely to recognize that this was not just a personal grievance on the part of the initiator. Anyone who is not willing to accept such united testimony may then properly be regarded as no longer a fit member of the community. “You” (singular, referring to the individual who raised the issue, not, at least explicitly, to the community as a whole) should then treat them as “a Gentile and a tax-collector.” Continue reading
Sinning against you: listening
Sin, of whatever form, is not to be tolerated within the disciple community, but is to be dealt with when it is noticed. But what is at stake is winning over the brother or sisters. The pastoral purpose of the approach is underlined by the verb “win,” which shows that the concern is not mainly with the safety and/or reputation of the whole community but with the spiritual welfare of the individual. “Win” suggests that the person was in danger of being lost, and has now been regained; it reflects the preceding image of the shepherd’s delight in getting his sheep back (v.12). Continue reading
Sinning against you: restore
15 “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.19 Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Continue reading
Sinning against you: context
Matthew 18:15–20 15 “If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.18 Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.19 Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Continue reading