The responsorial psalm at mass today is taken from Psalm 51. Traditionally, it is told that this psalm was sung by David in supplication to God after he had committed a great sin. And so today, I would like us to reflect upon sin. Yes, sin. What is sin? When do I sin? Why should I even be concerned about sin? These are questions I assume we sometimes ask ourselves. And, we should, because they are important questions. As Christians, our entire journey on earth is for us to make it to heaven and be with God for eternity. But unfortunately, sin separates us from Jesus. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sin is an utterance, or a deed, or a desire contrary to the Law of God. Whenever we choose deliberately – both knowingly and willingly – something contrary to the Law of God, it is an offense against God. Sin is a willful disobedience to God. When we know what is right, but willfully decide to do wrong. Sin wounds our human nature. By sinning, we fail to love the way God wants us to love. Sin destroys the love of God in us, without which eternal beatitude is impossible. Un-repented, sin brings us eternal death. Sins, which are offenses in thought word or deed or omission, can be distinguished according to their motive and purpose, or the virtues they oppose, or the commandments they violate. They can also be classified according to whether they concern God, neighbour or self. All sins can be classified under one or more of the seven capital or deadly sins: pride, greed, envy, anger , lust, gluttony, and sloth. These sins often lead to more sins and separate us from the love of God. Sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself. By repetition, sin becomes a vice, which is a habit of committing a particular sin. This can confuse our conscience and damage our judgement.
It is true that we are humans and not perfect. But Jesus asked us to strive to be the best we can be (Matthew 5:48). Because sin harms us – physically, mentally, and spiritually – and it harms people around us, God wants us to avoid sin for our own sake. We know that our sins can be forgiven when we acknowledge our sins before God and ask for forgiveness. As Catholics, we have a special way to do this in the sacrament of reconciliation. But to repent is more than just saying “I’m sorry”. We need to turn away from our sins. We need to admit our failings and sincerely try to avoid them in the future. We need God’s help to do this. We ask God’s forgiveness for the times we have sinned against him, and against our brothers and sisters. We ask God to grant us a contrite spirit to be truly sorry and repentant for these times. And we ask Him to grant us the grace to practice virtues of humility, liberality, chastity, meekness, temperance, brotherly love, and diligence. These virtues draw us closer to God. Remember that all Christians are called to holiness and toward an ever more intimate union with Jesus Christ.