Sunday, 12 November 2017

Let's Talk About Sin

If we are to sin, we are usually tempted first.  God does not tempt us directly, but there are times when He allows the world, the flesh and the devil to do their bit and tempt us away from the narrow path. We are never tempted beyond what we can overcome, or (in other words) beyond our ability to call on God for help. As Adolphe Tanquerey so succinctly says in his marvellous manual "The Spiritual Life", the sin only takes place when the following three things happen in order: suggestion, pleasure, consent.

Suggestion is the proposal of some evil.
Pleasure follows suggestion, where the person feels a sensation of being drawn towards the suggestion. Pleasure does not have to be pleasurable, indeed in sins surrounding despair, bitterness and emptyness, the sensation is far from pleasant and may indeed be an absence of all sensation and a horrific, all consuming staring into the abyss.
Consent is where the will delights and acquiesces to the suggestion.

It is an act of great heroism to withhold the acquiescence and combat the temptation and we are not really up to it.

OK so much for the text books.  I'm not so sure real life is quite so straightforward and the massive problem we all have is a belief in our own morality and the way we confuse morality with the Divine Law. Morality is usually born of disgust and therefore not part of our higher faculties. Morality is not strong enough to stand up to temptation.  The thing about the spiritual life is that our moral compass disappears when tempted.  The suggestions we face and which are coloured by the world, the flesh or the devil so often feel right, feel just, and indeed feel heaven sent.  Our conscience, so called, doesn't have a chance.

In the field of love this is particularly problematic.  Love is a good.  Love comes from God.  How that love is demonstrated is up to us and we are pathetic at truly loving and aiming as high as possible with those expressions of love. The flesh alone wants to be the theatre in which the acts of love take place. There are other dimensions to love which will be neglected if this is the case.

Today in the Greek-Catholic church we had the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan.  If we claim to be Christians in Communion with Our Lord then it is not enough to avoid sin like the Levite who passed by and did not help the dying man. There are times when avoidance of occasions of sin is not enough.  There are times when we can't walk on by.  There are times when  we see Christ in someone so beaten up by life's horrors and the offering of our love may well be misinterpreted and an occasion for sin, but to ignore them would be a greater sin. We too are beaten up, broken and worthless but we have something to give, something that will help, we are made to be generous.

And marvellously the Byzantine Rite comes to the rescue and as we say before Communion: I will not kiss You as did Judas.

Think on that.  Think hard.  If we see Christ in our love, then we must respond accordingly and not be a traitor to His Love.  We must not kiss as did Judas.

The heroism is in knowing our powerlessness and in handing everything over to God.  The heroism is remembering the First Commandment (remembering Love) and turning everything 100% over to God who is Love when every petty imagining is drawing us further and further away from this.

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