Sins Are Depersonalized

    "In his study of sin, Whatever Became of Sin?, American psychiatrist Karl Menninger (1893-1990) stated that although sin was once a strong word described as an ominous aspect of every human being's life, life-plan, and life-style, the word, along with the notion of sin, has all but disappeared.

    The reality of sin, however, has not disappeared. Sin is being referred to under various aliases instead. Nevertheless, the reality of sin is unchanged, as are its effects. For example, the sins of Auschwitz and war crimes are justified behind a claimed "patriotism" or other ideology. Other heinous sins have been dismissed by excusing their perpetrators on grounds of temporary insanity, or a troubled youth, or emotional instability. Some sins have been paraded under the guise of freedom of choice, ignorance, and aggressive or self-destructive behavior.

    Today, governmental identification and consciences of one's behaviors-those which are sinful in nature-has become the major focus of the people. This is why Menninger suggests that sin is not being recognized and named for what it is anymore. He continues by explaining that much of what is really sin is now called crime, and actions which are blatantly immoral, are now labeled illegal. Murder, robbery, treason, adultery and lying have become defined as criminal acts with prescribed punishments. In some cases, like abortion and/or euthanasia, behavioral acts has been "legalized", resulting in people accepting those acts as ok. These shifts in responsibility have caused the consequences of sin to become depersonalized. The reality of sin as a breach in the relationship with God and with others has been eliminated.

    A sin cannot be treated merely as a crime. An immoral activity cannot be labeled simply as illegal. A sin is sin and immoral is immoral. No words can substitute them. The consequence of depersonalizing sin has led the offenders to break the relationship with God and to live under the shadow of the netherworld.

    The liturgical readings for this weekend invite us to take a hard look at sin, to call it by its right name and to take back our responsibility for it, and repent, reform our lives. Similarly, we are challenged to look evil in the eye and, without blinking, own it for the reality that it is and do the same thing.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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