THIS is one important matter to attend to if we want our Christian life to keep going. We need to acknowledge our sinfulness and everything related to it so that, at least, we can start asking for forgiveness and developing the corresponding proper attitudes and virtues.
There is no use denying this obvious fact of life. As St. Paul quoted the Scriptures: “No one is righteous — not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God…For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Rom 3,10-11.23) St. John reiterated the same point in his first letter: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1, 8)
The sad fact that we have today is that many people are losing and have lost the sense of sin. Any idea they have about sin is strictly limited to their own very subjective view of what is bad and wrong. And this usually has no, or hardly any, relation to the articulated will and commandments of God.
What is clear is that many people have lost their relation to God and as a consequence, have also lost their sense of good and evil. Pieces of evidence are aplenty. Just recently, in preparation for the Freedom Day of a certain country, people were asked about how they define freedom. Practically everyone said it is freedom to do anything they like and to be what they want to be. There was no reference to God at all!
No wonder that we have in some countries the legalization of abortion and same-sex union. Things have become so bad that when a US pro-abortion official, for example, was asked if dismembering live babies still in the womb can be considered humane, the answer was yes.
Unless we return to God and follow his laws as much as we can, unless we acknowledge our sinfulness according to God’s laws and seek conversion, things can only go worse. There is no other possibility.
To be sure, we need to humble ourselves before we can acknowledge our sinfulness. This may be one of the obstacles to surmount, since humility is becoming an extinct virtue in many places nowadays. Many people have become proud and conceited, vain and oozing with a self-confidence that is not properly anchored on God.
It’s not that we have to go around proclaiming to the whole world that we are sinners or that we have sinned in some particular issue. We have to practice prudence, discretion and naturalness in this regard. But we should have a working way of acknowledging our sinfulness on a daily basis by making regular examination of conscience, for example, and by having recourse to frequent confession.
We should always remember that God is full of mercy and his delight is to forgive us. In fact, if we have to go by the lesson we can learn from the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and the prodigal son (cfr. Lk 15, 3-31) acknowledging our sin, saying sorry to God and returning to him would give him the greatest joy. So we can even make use of our sinfulness as an occasion to make God happy.
We need to encourage everyone, especially during this Lenten season, to truly develop a deep sense of penance where our sinfulness is acknowledged and where we ask for forgiveness and have another conversion which, by the way, is actually a continuing affair for us, given our earthly condition.
It might be good to consider very often that Christ himself fraternized more with the sinners than with the self-righteous, though at the end, he offered his life for all as his way of assuming all our sins and conquering them with his death and resurrection, and thereby offering all of us forgiveness. But we have to acknowledge our sins before we can have that forgiveness.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City ([email protected]/PN)