7th Sunday after Pentecost 15.7.12 Wages of sin
The wages of sin are death, says the epistle. Sin brings death, or at least causes harm. Always sin has a bad effect on the sinner and on everyone else too (through a flow-on effect).
Sin is far more harmful than is generally realized today. Many make light of it, not seeing how deep its damage can be.
If you went for a daily walk on the same route and one day you tripped over a particular place in the path where the ground was uneven, would you not be careful of that same place on future walks? It would be a strange thing if you fell at exactly the same place every day, and made no effort to avoid doing that.
This is because we carefully guard our physical safety and comfort. But we are not so careful about the state of our soul. We don't mind so much falling into the same sin again and again, refusing to avoid occasion of sin; failing to think through what causes our sin and how we could avoid it.
Sin has a way of appealing to us, offering us a short-term pleasure, but the after-effects are deadly.
The damage sin does: Firstly it can send us to hell. Many today do not believe in hell, thinking that a merciful God would not send anyone there; so there is no danger on that score.
But the Scriptures and Tradition remind us constantly that there is a hell and a serious chance of any one of us going there. Yes, God is merciful, but we must ask for His mercy and with serious purpose of amendment. We cannot simply presume on His mercy to save us if we have no real contrition.
Secondly, sin will bring us death in this life, imprisoning us in selfishness and mistrust of each other. Look at the harm that is done by the fact that people lie to each other, break promises, steal from each other, kill each other. There is death here in many forms. Our whole society suffers from sin.
Thirdly, and most importantly though least understood, the damage of sin is that God Himself is offended. Recall the Act of Contrition where we say: I am sorry for my sins ... most of all because they offend Thy infinite holiness.
The worst thing about sin is that it is an injustice to God who is all perfection and goodness.
When we sin we are defacing something beautiful. We would not go into an art gallery and throw mud on the famous paintings. When we sin we are throwing mud directly at God Himself! We are loading another scourge onto Christ’s back. Each time we sin.
Any of these factors should be enough to help us stop sinning. Sin is so normal for us and comes in so many forms that it is very hard to shake it off all at once, but we can make progress, and with God’s grace we will be free.
We need to get to the point that we see sin as foolish as it would be to fall over the same part of the road each day; or as outrageous as it would be to strike our own grandmother.
By the same logic we can develop the positive side of things. If the wages of sin are death the reward of not sinning is life – more life and better life. And certainly happier life.
The logic is there. It makes sense. But we do not yet feel convinced even though our minds tell us so. We need our hearts as well as our minds to be convinced.
Only the love of God acting on us first will bring forth the response our hearts need to make. ‘They will look on the One whom they have pierced and they will mourn for Him.’
When we reach the point of ‘mourning’ for our sins we are on the way to being free from them.