Fr. Tom, 12-18-16

Dear Loyola Parishioners and Visitors,
This week I have been thinking about sin. What is sin? What is mortal sin? I have also been listening to the confessions of primary and secondary school students. Per theologian and retired Anglican bishop N. T. Wright sin is that which corrupts or distorts the reflection of the image of God in a person. He points out that if the human person is created in the image and likeness of God, then one contributes to their own and others’ dehumanization as that image is tarnished or destroyed through their acts, desires, attitudes, etc. Rather than “Your will be done, Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”, humans create hell on earth through  their desire for punishment not justice, acting out of fear not trust.

Mortal sin. What is mortal sin? A complete rejection of God, a rupture in God’s link to saving grace that if unforgiven leads to eternal damnation. Can any greater rupture in God’s link to saving grace be imagined than the nailing of spikes into Jesus’ wrists in preparation for his crucifixion? Yet, to that, Jesus responds, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

So, back to listening to students’ confessions. One high school girl’s statement continues to churn in my head: “I encourage abortion.” Upon exploration of what she was confessing, what she meant was that she does not oppose abortion, not that she counsels others to obtain abortions. She got me thinking about how much I encourage public policies opposed to the following of Christ by my acceptance through silence and lack of protest of policies and practices contrary to the way of Christ. She got me thinking about being silent with
the Church “to avoid scandal” when criminal behavior comes to light.

A grade school girl confessed to hurting herself. Again, upon examination, what she was confessing was not what you or I might at first think. She was confessing that when she plays basketball she sometimes falls and hurts herself, and she added I hurt others by pushing them during play causing them to fall. She got me thinking about ‘innocent’ play and sports, and how the enculturation of competition as an ordinary way for human relating can lead to an ethic of competition one embraces as a way of life that does, in fact, hurt ourselves and others by pushing others down or leading to our own fall in our pursuit of a win. Is it any wonder that institutions created to foster cooperation among individuals and corporate bodies break down because one or other does not judge further cooperation is going to advance the end which they seek? So, bad things happen to people and lives are destroyed as competition not cooperation dominates human interactions and international relations.