The Pastor's Column

Fr. Lara's Lines

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

WWhat Is Sin?
Sin could be understood as the absence of good since the negative way to understand a concept is to look into what it is not. For instance, evil is the absence of good or peace the absence of war. So, sin could be the absence of good. It is action that leads us into something that is against divine law. The missing part is a right relationship with God. Sin is ignoring our true selves in the presence of the divine.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure of genuine love for God, neighbor, or ourselves. This offense is expressed through words, actions, or desires that are contrary to the eternal law of God. In the Ten Commandments, we are made aware of the different ways we can commit these offenses. For instance, when we utter words that offend our father, mother, or any other person, we are going contrary to the divine law (fourth commandment); or when we judge, gossip, or bear false witness against someone else, we go against the love of God (eighth commandment). Taking someone else’s possessions makes us go against God’s will, which will be consider a sin (seventh commandment). Coveting our neighbor’s goods leads us into temptation (tenth commandment). So, sin is expressed through harmful words, actions, or desires that go contrary to the love of God, others, ourselves.

Sin is also rejecting a relationship with God. Holiness is union with the divine. Holiness happens when a person recognizes their place before God. It is a right relationship that takes place between God and people. When sin appears in the picture, the person hides away from God. It is out of shame or fear that the sinner stays away from the presence of God. In the book of Genesis, we hear how Adam and Eve, after they disobeyed God, hid from the presence of God. It is the immediate response since the relationship is broken. So, sin is the rupture of the relationship with God that we are meant to have.

How Do We Deal With Sin? The answer to this question is very simple--humility. We cannot rebuild our relationship with God without humility or the ability to recognize who we are in God’s presence. Confession is the perfect way to reconcile ourselves with God when grievous sins are committed. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a special time for us to experience the mercy of God in our lives. Restoring our relationship with God happens when we examine our conscience, are sincerely sorry for our sins, confess what we have done, resolve to amend our life, and do the penance assigned to us.

In this weekend’s gospel, Jesus gives us a practical example of how to deal with sin. “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off… if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off… and if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna.” Jesus might sound harsh when saying this to his disciples. Jesus is trying to make a point; he is not telling the disciples to mutilate themselves but to get rid of the causes of sin. These words from Jesus need to be integrated into our daily lives. What is causing you to sin? What are the habits you have that need to be redirected? What are some of the desires you have that need to be dealt with? Jesus is asking us to get rid of all those things that may cause us to sin. Our goal is to live free from sin. Temptations will always exist in a fallen world, but we have the ability to resist the temptations we face in our daily lives. What is causing you to sin? Jesus would say to you, get rid of it for it is better for you to live without it than to have a broken relationship with God.

Family Mass
Last week we celebrated our first Family Mass of the year. The Church is about building community and sharing the love of God with others, especially with children and youth. We want families to worship together at Mass and create social connections that will nourish our spiritual and social lives. I thank Tracy Licudine and so many other parents and parishioners whose efforts are making this possible. We look forward to the next Family Mass.

Fr. Lara

Live the Liturgy
Who are the little ones? They are the many and varied faces of people who see hope in Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God. They have come to believe that there is a different world to be had: a place where everyone has a home, all have equal opportunity to share in God’s bountiful gifts and blessings, where justice reigns, truth presides, and peace fills hearts. The little ones are those who may have left their former views behind, perhaps even their former lives to follow Jesus and believe in the Beatitudes as God’s world vision. They are the poor, the marginalized, the women and men at the well, people like Zacchaeus looking for Jesus from a tree, the blind who want to see, and the lame who want to walk. They are the lepers who have been told that they are unclean, and the ones who have learned that suffering and death are nothing to fear. These are all of the little ones. Jesus gathers and protects them as a shepherd guards his sheep. Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin deserves the greatest wrath. Be more concerned about what people are doing than where they came from.