From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris For October 14, 2018

We reflected last week on the serious nature and consequences of sin, which raises the question: what do we do about sin’? The answer, of course, is Jesus, and the first place we look to see Jesus’ answer to sin is the Cross.

Jesus’ death on the Cross is the payment of our debt of sin. Remember, when we sin, when we offend God and others, we put ourselves in debt to them. The price of our sins is the Blood of Jesus Christ poured out in sacrifice as payment of the debt for our sins. (As a side note, there is much, much more that could be said about the effects of Jesus’ death. There are many other ways to look at the meritorious effect of His sacrifice, but there just isn’t the time or space to delve into them here.)

It is more than that, though, because sin also breaks the relationship between the sinner and the other party. Simply paying the debt does not restore our relationships. Jesus’ death on the Cross, though, was done in obedience to the Father. By His obedience mankind’s relationship with God is restored.

We participate in this reality through Baptism and the other sacraments. Through the sacraments, we are united to Christ as members of His Body, the Church, and, as members of His Body, we participate in His sacrifice and share in the merits and healing that accrue from it. This restoration also affects our relationships with one another. In Christ, the debts we owe each other and the broken relationships are healed.

We see in this dynamic two stages for dealing with sin: forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is about the debt. In fact, even in common parlance we talk about forgiving debts (say on a loan). Reconciliation is the restoration of relationship between the parties. When a relationship is broken, the ultimate goal is to bring the parties back together in harmonious relationship.

Identifying these two stages is important because they don’t have to happen together. Someone can be forgiven without being reconciled. From the Cross Jesus forgives His persecutors: “Father, forgive them for they not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Obviously they were not reconciled because they continued to torture and kill Him. Also, while on the Cross, the Good Thief turns to Jesus and finds both forgiveness and reconciliation: “This day you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus sets the pattern for how we are to deal with sin, namely forgiveness and reconciliation. More than that, though, He has also made it possible. His death on the Cross means we have access to the merits and graces that pay the debt we owe to God and each other. By His obedience to the Father and our participation in His obedience we can be restored to right relationship with God and with one another.

This becomes the pattern for how, as members of His Body, we are to treat sin both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
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