On The Matter Of Sin (cont'd)

There is the story of how Jesus once came to St. Jerome and complained to him that Jerome  had not given him everything.  Jerome became very upset at this. Lord, he said, I have given you all I have, he cried.  What have I held back?  Jesus replied: No, Jerome, you have not given me everything. You have not given me your sins.
A sick and troubled conscience is like someone trying to walk on roller skates, always on the verge of a hard fall.  The healthy conscience, when it sees an inclination to evil, turns to Jesus.  And when it falls, it knows that it has fallen out of weakness and that that weakness does not separate the soul from God.  In fact, the fall has just the opposite effect for our very weaknesses impel us to stay ever close to Christ.  And he receives us for it is precisely the sinner that he came to save.  And that, dear friends, is the Good News of the Gospel.
If we really believed that we wanted evil, we would cover it up because no one wants to see himself as evil.  Eventually we would hide it from ourselves, and we would do this by losing awareness of the fact that sin is sin. This is what has happened in our culture where the notion of sin has virtually disappeared.  It is tragic that in many cases, sin is barely mentioned even in the Church, so great is this need to deal with it.  But dealing with it in any other way than the healthy way St. Paul teaches, only leads to moral sickness, or moral profligacy.
Why does God allow sin?  Surely it is not so that moral theologians can adjudicate whether it is moral or venial. God’s whole purpose in allowing sin is to show us what we are in and of ourselves, apart from Him, so that these weaknesses will move us to go to Him. The essential thing is not the sin, but this realization of what we are, so that we will be drawn to Jesus because we don’t want to be stuck in our sinful selves.
It is a tragic circumstance that most of the time we don’t act this way.  We think we have to be free of sin in order to go to Jesus. When we see ourselves inclining to sin, or actually sinning, we think we have to clean up our act before we can have a relationship with Him.  It is true that mortal sin breaks that relationship, but mortal sin only becomes mortal when there is the intention to break that relationship.  As St. Paul taught, our relationship is not broken if, when we sin, we sin out of weakness, which is to say, when it is not I who sins but sin that is within me.  And as St. Paul taught, God permits these weaknesses because they move us to go to Him.  That is what allowed St. Paul to say, When I am weak, I am strong.
Given our fallen nature and bad habits, nothing is easier than getting back into ourselves so that our peace and happiness depends not upon Jesus but upon what we do or don’t do, on our own. That’s why we should begin our day in the quiet spirit of turning to Jesus, uniting ourselves with Him and asking Him to be with us throughout the day.  If we do this, we will develop a sense of what it means to be with Him. If we don’t, the day will very likely proceed chaotically, for that failure to turn to Jesus knowing how much we need Him would be the beginning of all other sins.
After we have sinned and we turn to Jesus, then we can say “I am not in myself”—that is the moment of grace, and the only reason we say it is because God is giving us the grace.  If we don’t see ourselves as an object of faith—as being only in Jesus—what is there to believe in the Church?
More than anything else we have to convince ourselves that we are holy in Jesus because we have to counteract the mentality that we can’t be holy because of what we do.  That is why Jesus said: “Without Me you can do nothing.”  If we examine our conscience, we’ll see we are trying to make ourselves holy by what we do.  The correct principle is Jesus in us and us in Jesus.  Faith without works is dead, but we can add works without faith is also dead.  The important act of the act of faith is to trust in God’s goodness to us. God gives us the grace to realize we are His and He loves us.  When we believe in His love then we grow in faith and then we know whatever the sin was, Jesus already paid the price.  He suffered for our sins and He wants us to believe in Him.  Our reaction to sin would be:  “I did it again.”  When we have that sense then we wouldn’t be unduly afraid of sin because we’d really believe that nothing can separate us from God—neither are we making an excuse for sin.  We’re really aware of ourselves.   
The Pharisees used the adulteress to manifest their goodness.  But Jesus said:  “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”  If we don’t resolve our sins in the simplicity and truth of Jesus, we’ll all be Pharisees.
What we do when we sin is not static.  We go to Jesus, but the next moment we might again become aware of something wrong, so we go again.  It is like an embryo—the blood of Jesus circulates in us.
Our spiritual life is always a state of becoming.  If we ask, “How do we get to be this way?” analogously we get to be this way the way an embryo develops.  As the development of the body depends totally on the mother, so the development of the soul depends totally on the nourishment that a life of faith affords. Nothing furthers this development more than having a relationship with someone who functions like a true spiritual mentor. It could be a priest or spiritual director, or just someone close, a dear friend who is truly spiritual, someone whom we believe helps reveal God to us, someone to whom we can reveal ourselves.  When we realize that this person knows the worst about us and yet loves us because God loves us and we belong to Him, then we can really begin to believe that for ourselves, too.  That conviction is not something we can give ourselves. If God had wanted to, He could have created us like He created Adam. But in truth our belief that God loves us begins with the love of others, on our natural parents, especially our fathers if they are spiritual, and then, as we mature, on priests and mentors and spiritual friends who themselves live by faith in God’s Love and in his gratuitous Goodness to us individually.
God sees our sins and our inclination to sin as the failure of our first father, or someone after him, to have done this for us. A faith-filled father develops in his child the disposition and habit of going him with shortcomings and misgivings, so that as the child matures this disposition naturally develops into the practice of going to our heavenly Father with our sins.  God knows that when we go to Him, we wouldn’t want to sin.  So in a real sense God sees a faithless person as a victim of a faithless father, someone who himself probably did not have a faith-filled father. And so without a real father, we become our own father, and once we get lost in ourselves, what is there that we wouldn’t do that we wanted to do?  We would do whatever we wanted because we are the end of the authority line.  Then when the Church tells us who do these things that we have to love God, how can we when the only person we love is ourselves.  The truth is that we can’t love unless we know we are being loved, an experience that normally begins with a love our father has for us, our first authority who knows the worst about us (because we’re open to him about our shortcomings) and yet loves us. That is why, in our fatherless age, in our age of faithless fathers, we have a society of young people turning to drugs and everything else.  When a child believes that it is loved by its father, the child naturally loves the father back and wants to do what the father wants.  That is the foundation of all morality.  But if we’re lost in ourselves and what we want only what we want, all our morality becomes just a matter of public relations which could very easily become pubic!
When we understand this w can become merciful to ourselves because we can say: “Yes, that is the way I am” and then we turn to Jesus.