A sin is a sin!
Anthony Mastroem wrote the following provocative comment:
No one steals any more… they simply lift something.
No one lies any more… they simply misrepresent the facts.
No one commits adultery… they simply play or fool around.
No one kills an unborn baby.. they simply terminate a pregnancy.
All of this, Mastroem says, is simply a clevery, if dishonest way, of candy-coating the reality of sin.
– If God wanted a permissive society, God would have given us Ten Suggestions, instead of Ten Commandments.
– Calling a spade ‘an agricultural implement’ does nothing to change what it is!
– taken from “150 More Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by Jack McArdle
Jonah 1:1 – 2:1, 11
The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah son of Amittai:
“Up!” he said, “Go to Nineveh, the great city, and inform them that their wickedness has become known to me.” Jonah decided to run away from the Lord, and to go to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa and found a ship bound for Tarshish; he paid his fare and went aboard, to go with them to Tarshish, to get away from the Lord. But the Lord unleashed a violent wind on the sea, and there was such a great storm at sea that the ship threatened to break up. The sailors took fright, and each of them called on his own god, and to lighten the ship they threw the cargo overboard.
Jonah, however, had gone below and lain down in the hold and fallen fast asleep. The boatswain came upon him and said, “What do you mean by sleeping? Get up! Call on your God! Perhaps he will spare us a thought, and not leave us to die.” Then they said to each other, “Come on, let us draw lots to find out who is responsible for bringing this evil on us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell to Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us, what is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country? What is your nationality?”
He replied, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” The sailors were seized with terror at this and said, “What have you done?” They knew that he was trying to escape from the Lord, because he had told them so. They then said, “What are we to do with you, to make the sea grow calm for us?” For the sea was growing rougher and rougher. He replied, “Take me and throw me into the sea, and then it will grow calm for you. For I can see it is my fault this violent storm has happened to you.”
The sailors rowed hard in an effort to reach the shore, but in vain, since the sea grew still rougher for them. They then called on the Lord and said, “O Lord, do not let u perish for taking this man’s life; do not hold us guilty of innocent blood; for you, Lord, have acted as you thought right.” And taking hold of Jonah they threw him into the sea; and the sea grew calm again. At this the men were seized with dread of the Lord; they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. The Lord had arranged that a great fish should be there to swallow Jonah; and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. The Lord spoke t the fish, which then vomited Jonah on to the shore.
There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? What do you read there?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” “You have answered right,” said Jesus, “do this and life is yours.”
But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way, a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. he then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?” “The one who took pity on him,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Go, and do the same yourself.”
Recently in the news, we have read that the law is to be changed such that it will become criminal for a person who has AIDS to have sex with another person, regardless of whether or not the infected person knows that he is infected, so long as the infected person knows that he has been in a high-risk situation.
Regardless of whether an infected person knows whether he has the disease or not, when this person has sex with another person, the other person is going to get infected as well. Does this not sound remarkably similar to the first reading? Jonah was ‘infected’, so to speak, and he didn’t tell the sailors about it. As a result, because of his ‘infection’, the other sailors suffered for Jonah’s mistake.
When we do something morally wrong, each of us has an ‘infection’. That ‘infection’ is a weakening of the relationship between God and ourselves. It might not be a mortal sin, but if something is wrong, whether we know it is wrong or not makes no difference; it is still wrong, and it has consequences on us and on the people around us.
When we are not aware of our ‘infection’, often because we don’t want to find out about it, we are harming our neighbour, in a similar way as the HIV-infected person harms others despite not knowing about their infection.
What do we do then? The Church presents us with a wonderful gift which enables us to find our infection, and to address it. It is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It begins with a desire to find out where we have done wrong, and it brings us through an Examination of Conscience, which is pretty much like a medical checkup. In a medical check-up, the doctor asks us some questions about our lifestyle. In the Examination of Conscience, there is often a list of questions that we can ask ourselves, and from our responses, we will know where our ‘infection’ is and what nature it is.
All of us are living in high-risk situations, hence it is advisable for us to go for frequent checkups, that is, to examine our consciences frequently… everyday, if possible. This is the best way to keep ourselves infection-free, and it helps that we are aware of it as well.
Dear Lord, please grant us the courage and patience to examine our consciences regularly, and grant us the humility to accept correction in our lifestyles, so as to avoid sin, and do no harm to ourselves and to our neighbour. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: The Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Tue, Oct 9 – Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 10:38-42; Memorial for St. Denis, bishop, martyr, and his companions, martyrs; Memorial for St. John Leonardi, priest, religious founder
Wed, Oct 10 – Jonah 4:1-11; Luke 11:1-4
Thu, Oct 11 – Malachi 3:13-20a; Luke 11:15-26
Fri, Oct 12 – Joel 1:13-15, 2:1-2; Luke 11:15-26
Sat, Oct 13 – Joel 4:12-21; Luke 11:27-28
Sun, Oct 14 – 2 Kings 5:17-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19; Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.