Br. Benjamin Fenlon, SHM
"No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has either seen Him or known Him." 1 Jn 3:6
We have a temptation to let big concepts and truths contained in individual phrases of the Sacred Scripture escape us, given that to take them literally requires an immense life conversion. It would mean giving the Lord something we are afraid of losing: our sins. “No one who sins has either seen Him or known Him”.
“One who sins”
I am one who sins.
Since my last confession, I've sinned again.
It seems impossible to think of anyone who doesn’t sin on a daily basis. The book of Proverbs says that “the just man sins seven times a day” (24: 16). How can we avoid sinning? It’s natural to us, isn’t it?
The problem is that we’re so accustomed to mediocrity in our faith that we think that it’s normal to sin, that since we’re fallen we can’t help it, and that although I shouldn’t, I don’t need to worry, because I’m continually trying and getting better. However, every sin I commit, I commit through my own fault. Should that sin be mortal, my soul is potentially in hell already. The weak chain of our mortal life, which separates us from heaven, purgatory or hell, can be broken instantaneously and when we least expect it.
But we don’t have to sin. In his excellent book Gospel and Utopia,, available on Amazon.com, Father Iraburu tells us, that it had occurred in the reductions of Paraguay that a visiting priest would hear confessions during a whole afternoon without hearing sins from anybody to absolve. A contemporary author said that there, “such great innocence rules that I don’t believe that a single mortal sin is committed in them.”
Those people lived out the fullness of the words of Saint John.
We, though sinners, must recognize and rejoice at the glorious truth here revealed to us: God is so much greater than we imagine, that should we have seen or known Him, we would never consider sinning again.
We must believe, since we have not seen Him and do not know Him.
What must we believe? That God loves us so much that, although we’re despicable to Him because of our sins, He permits that we confess and atone for them, so that we may be truly humbled. By being truly humbled we may see Him and know Him, for God resists the proud, but gives His grace to the humble of heart.
His grace is his Presence. Exposed to the presence of God, we are capable of being purified of our sinful habits, so long as we try to live as Jesus told us: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5: 48). Doing so, we will come to be those who see Him, who know Him, and who, God willing, do not sin.
©HM Magazine; nº184 May-June 2015