Last week ParishWorld.net ran a top story that was entitled, "Has the Notion of Sin Been Lost?" I looled at that headline and said to myself, "Sure, and why not? It should be lost, forever, and replaced with the notion of virtue." Sadly, both of these notions are on the endangered list. Sure we are surrounded by people who don't think that pre-marital sex is sinful; sure we are Surrounded by people who think that masturbation is not sinful; sure we are surrounded by people who think that euthanasia is not sinful and for sure we surrounded by people who think that lying is not sinful.
My attitude? So what? We are also surrounded by people who call in sick 20 days a year while they are perfectly healthy; we are surrounded by people who promise to get the job done by tomorrow, but they don't tell us tomorrow of which year; we are surrounded by people who are perpetually late for appointments; we are surrounded by people who come to church every
Sunday but who insult their fellow Christians in the parking lot; we are surrounded by people who say that they are Catholic but who don't educate their children in the faith, don't get them baptized and then make up all kinds of excuses for their negligence; we are surrounded by people who don't take care of their health because it takes too much time; we are surrounded by
volunteers who promise you one thing but then are not reliable enough to get it done. Do I need to continue? No, you get the point. We live in a world that not only is losing its sense of wrong, but its sense of right as well. The world we live in has no desire to replace the bad with the good. We live in a world that has no desire to understand that strong good habits (virtues in religioius speak) can actually keep us free from bad habits (vices, in religious speak). We live in a world that doesn't want to understand that prayer is better than sit-com TV. We live in a world where the leaders themselves do not repect the straight-talk truth. We live in a world where Catholic leaders prefer to negotiate the bottom line truth in order to accommodate Protestant friends. We live in a world where even Protestants try to cover up their core values by calling
themselves Christians. We live in a world where Muslims sell us the notion that Islam is a religion of peace and understanding while they murder Catholic bishops, priests and deacons because they refuse to stop practicing their Catholic religion in public.
It's OK to take polls and write articles about the decline in the notion of sin. Let's take a poll and write an article about why it is that the inhabitants of this planet have declined to the point where the reality of high expectations and the desire to achieve perfection have declined to the point where school teachers and even university professors feel comfortable in rewarding A+ to people. If A is the top grade, then everyone else would be less, right? Why are we diminishing the value of the A by making the top grade the oxymoronic A+? Oh, I forgot, we have to make little Johnny and little Janie feel good about getting an A even though their work doesn't really make it. It's like the teams who have losing records, you know, .390 or something like that, and still are included in the playoffs. It's like the employers who don't fire those who only report to work 200 days a year because they are "good employees". It's like giving every child in the league a certificate for good performance. It's like giving everybody a raise or a bonus, even those who are known in the board room as "Bozos".
Let me state this bluntly: This attitude of ours as a civilization is as deleterious to our existence and yes, to your eternal salvation as sin, the way we understand it, or think we understand it, will be. I hear it every day, "Jesus was kind; Jesus was merciful; Jesus was understanding." Yeah, OK. but go read Matthew 25 and get to the bottom line: Those of you who don't measure up are never going to have to worry about your heating bill again, for all eternity. You think that this is tough, what about this, "'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Revelation, chapter 3, verse 16)
I therefore urge you, Be Good! Be Virtuous! Stay Close to God! Stay Close to the Truth and don't negotiate it with anyone, not even yourself. I'm not afraid to tell you, negotiating the truth to water it down is the great sin of this century. We all have to learn to strive for perfection because God Himself orders us to do so. We are reminded of this by the Second Council of the Vatican. Our Christian life is a constant striving for improvement. We have to remember, an attitude of "it's good enough" is not going to get the job done over the long haul. Let's help one another to get it done and there will be not excuse, absolutely none, for us to cry at one another's funeral. Especially not mine!
If you do cry at my funeral, I will tell St. Peter on you.