Sunday, March 22, 2015

Convinced of sin?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Passion Sunday 2015

Who tells you that you have sinned? More often than not, we already have some idea in our heads when we’ve done something wrong. Our conscience pricks us and makes us a bit tetchy until we do something about the wrong we have done. This will mean saying sorry to God and seeking to make full amends for any wrong done. We could feel sorry because we honestly love God and have gone against His wishes. We could also feel sorry because we’ve been caught out. If we’re honestly sorry and seeking to make amends and want to do better, then God does forgive us. He desires not the death of a sinner but rather that the sinner turn to Him and live.

However, for this to happen, you do need to know that you’ve sinned. Apart from your conscience, who tells you that you have sinned? Your parents? Your family? A teacher? A priest? A policeman? A High Court Judge? Each of these folk certainly influence your understanding of what sin is, but can they really tell you that you have sinned? It seems clear that if your deeds fit a crime, then you have sinned. If your deeds do not fit a crime then you have not sinned. If only life were this easy!


Our Lord asks this question of the Pharisees. “Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” The fact of the matter is that the Scribes and Pharisees want to get rid of Our Lord but can’t find the crime to fit his deeds. That’s the crucial point here. We know we have sinned when our deeds fit the crime. That’s not the same as fitting the crime to the deeds!

We are probably used most not to see the evil in our own actions, and to seeing evil in what others do. Alternatively, some people are all too ready to see evil in everything that they do and become sad and depressed. We can be usually very judgmental if we’re not careful. We are tempted to judge beyond our abilities.


We do have to remember that God’s judgment is not like ours and if we want to be like God, then we should strive to see how justice works. God is in the unique position to see perfectly what is right and what is wrong, after all, whatever is good is from Him. When you consider that even calling someone a fool puts us in danger of Hellfire, or even looking at a woman with lust in one’s eye is adultery, the Law of God seems beyond our reach.

The temptation here is to see human beings as evil things that are incapable of being good. We forget that God has created us, and God looks at His creation and sees that it is good. We have fallen from Him, but still we must be worth something to Him for Him to want us to come back to Him. We cannot therefore be completely evil, because where God is, no evil can be and vice versa.

It is actually a sin to despise oneself, because if we did, we would be despising something good, something that God actually loves.

Yes, we need to be careful not to sin, but this is so that we allow ourselves to be nearer to God. Yet, if we do sin, we need to make sure we know it and then remember that “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”

The route out of temptation is the route of Love which is also the route out of sin. It is a difficult path which is why Our Lord treads it with us. Yes, we sin, but with God, yes we can be forgiven if we seek Him with our whole heart.

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