From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris For October 7, 2018

To start our discussion about our response to sin, it is helpful to know what sin is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about sin in this way: “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is a failure in genuine love of God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”‘ (CCC 1849)

There is so much packed in these sentences that we could spend months just opening up what these lines mean. For now we will just hit a few high points. First, we see that sin is an offense against the way things should be (law, reason, truth, right conscience). There is an order built into us that we are meant to follow. The rest of the universe follows laws (gravity, instinct, etc.) because they have no choice; we have laws that are particular to being human, but we can break those laws (truth) because we have free will. This puts us at odds with the rest of the universe.

These laws (the truth) are not arbitrary. Rather, there is a person, God, who stands behind them, and an offense against the law is an offense against Him who made us. We are breaking the relationship that has been written into our very nature. Offense against someone puts us in a position a debt to that person; we owe them something in satisfaction of our offense.

Not only is the offense against God, our sins are also an offense against other humans. We find ourselves in a network of relationships, and our sins, even our private sins, damage those relationships. Therefore, we find ourselves also in a position where others have a claim against us because we have broken the order in which we are all to live.

If all that were not enough, sin also wounds our human nature. We become less than we should be, could be. When we sin, it is easy to get stuck in a repeated habit of sin. Our ability to do otherwise, our freedom, is compromised. Not only that, our ability to even think clearly is compromised. We all know people who will twist a situation into a pretzel in order to justify bad behavior.

In a real way we, who are higher than the animals, become less than animals when we sin. Animals have no choice but to follow the law written into them. Animals act on instinct and they can’t do otherwise; this is why it is possible to train many animals. We can manipulate their instincts into behavior that we want. We, though, when we sin, are not even up to the same level as animals.

This is a truly serious situation, and one that we cannot get ourselves out of on our own. How do we pay an infinite and eternal God back for our offenses? How do we repay all of humanity for damage we have caused? How do we restore our lost dignity when our very ability to do so is compromised?

The answer of course is Jesus, but we will get into that next week.

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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