Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner"

‘Sinner’ wrote, “Please don't laugh at this question. How do you get over the fact that you are a sinner? I haven't thought of myself as one until recently and its a yucky feeling.” None of us will fully “get over” the fact that we are sinners in this life. Yes, it’s a yucky feeling, but there is also something beautiful at work whenever we realize that we are sinners. Christ points this out in different ways in the Gospels, most especially when he lauds the man who says, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Lk 18:13).

How can it be good or beautiful to point out a bad reality? Because it is the truth. The reality, now matter how ugly it is – and sin can be very ugly – is that we are sinners. Many people try to deny and run away from this reality. We justify our sinful behavior and attitudes regularly; “I hate him because he has been a jerk to me”. We easily make excuses for our vices; “I got drunk the other night because of all the stress at work”. As the Catechism points out (# 387), we like to use other words as substitutes for our sins: “mistakes”, “flaws”, “weaknesses”.

While it is indeed hard to acknowledge that we have sinned and that we are sinners, it is also very liberating. Again, it is the truth; anytime we can see the truth and acknowledge it, it is a step toward freedom. “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). It wasn’t until I realized and admitted the truth is that I am a great sinner that I entered into true freedom. It wasn’t until I saw how selfish I can be that I began to live for others. It wasn’t until I admitted my pride and stubbornness that I began to grow in humility. It wasn’t until I acknowledged my slavery to sin that I could live in freedom. As a great sinner, I am far from perfection, but am on the path to perfection.

We live in a world that doesn’t commonly use words like ‘sin’, ‘evil’, or ‘vice’. Our world doesn’t want to acknowledge that we are sinners, probably because it’s a world that doesn’t want to have that ‘yucky feeling’. So, instead of owning up to the truth, the world distorts the truth so that we will ‘feel better’ about who we are and what we’ve done. The problem is that by avoiding the ‘yucky feeling’, we can get into other (and more serious) sins. How many teens are aborting their babies at this very moment because they committed the sin of fornication? Instead of owning up to their sin, they cover it up by committing an ever greater sin. “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

How many marital and familial problems are results of spouses or family members not admitting that they have sinned? How many divorces have occurred because of the pride of spouses? How many families have been divided because of unforgiveness, anger, or grudges? If humility made its residence in each of our homes, we would live in a different world, a world that would much more closely resemble Heaven. Heaven is home to the humble, not the proud: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18:13).

It is hard and yucky to admit time and again that we have sinned and that we are sinners. But, it is extremely freeing. Admitting to myself, God, and others that I am a sinner frees me from all of the justifications and excuses which my pride has chained me with for so long. If this makes me an easy target for people to attack me, so be it. When I have sinned, they are right to attack me, and may God have mercy on me. When I haven’t sinned, they are wrong to attack me, and may God have mercy on them. Christ is the most humble of all because he never sinned and was ferociously attacked. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us” (see 2 Cor 2:21).

5 Comments:

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Admitting to myself, God, and others that I am a sinner frees me from all of the justifications and excuses which my pride has chained me with for so long. If this makes me an easy target for people to attack me, so be it. When I have sinned, they are right to attack me, and may God have mercy on me."

Hmmm. Never thought that way about sin and pride. When we have sinned do we just go to confession about it, or do we also go to the person we sinned against for forgiveness?

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger fran said...

Wow! Those are powerful words which really hit home! Would love to hear them in a Sunday homily sometime.

 
At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That may be the best post you've ever written.

 
At 2:19 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

“If humility made its residence in each of our homes, we would live in a different world, a world that would much more closely resemble Heaven.”

Amen!

At one time I believed innocence didn’t exist for any but the sheltered or young who were yet unaware of sin and evil. And so, when Christ said that we must be childlike in our acceptance of Him, I didn’t understand that to be possible. How could sinners be childlike? I knew far too much about sin to embrace what was good and pure- I was NOT innocent any longer! Now, I think a little differently. I believe He meant that we are to be childlike in that we don’t adapt to our sin- seeing it as okay and normal for us to keep in our lives. Will we sin? Yeah. Are we able to still be innocent? Yes, but humility is key having that. Our innocence allows us to see value wherever it exists, and it protects us from the evil outside us. Our humility keeps us from using that good we see for ourselves, and protects us from the evil within- like pride, selfishness and stubborness. I like the metaphor- humility is like a clean window and innocence is like a clear vision- without both your view is distorted.

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

FATHER GREG: Awesome response to feeling "yucky" about our sins! Here is a very, very simple memory from my childhood that helps me with feeling "yucky" when I have sinned.

When I was I a very little girl, relatives and friends would say to my mom...."oh what a pretty daughter you have."

My mom's sweet response: "And she's just as pretty on the inside."

Believe it or not I have never forgotten her words. When I fall into sinful selfish ways, I feel "UGLY" and "YUCKY" on the inside. This is my first clue that I need to go to confession.
After reconciliation(which I received today), my heart and soul are clean. I know I will feel "ugly" on the inside again, hopefully, later rather sooner.
For today, I am enjoying God's forgiveness and His merciful love for me.

So back to the, anon, don't try to fix "feeling ugly" about being a sinner your self. Become a frequent confessor, repent, and God will help you to grow in goodness.

 

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