Sin is not a popular topic.  It is much more popular to speak of love.  But we need to reflect on sin, at least from time to time.  Failure to do so creates  a real danger of losing consciousness of sin.  Reflection on sin should also serve to correct and faulty under-standing of sin we may have.

Christianity doesn’t make sense without sin.  If we are not sinners, turned away from God, then there is no reason for God to become man, and no reason for him to die.   It is from our slavery to sin that Christ came to free us.  That is a fundamental belief  of Christians.

It is a common practice to speak of sin as an offense against God.  A weakness of that description of sin is that God is beyond being “offended” by anything we do.   Peter Abelard put it this way: “God cannot be harmed by us but he can be despised. ”

Frequently, perhaps most commonly, we sin not so much against God as against our neighbor.  Just as sin forms a barrier to God’s grace coming into our lives so also sin forms  a barrier between us and our neighbor.  As Ronald Rolheiser put it “Nothing alienates us more from each other, driving us back into our lonely selves, than the power of sin.”

Father John Powell has a helpful analogy concerning sin and God’s love.  He suggests God’s love is like the sun.  We can shield ourselves from the sun but it continues to shine.  We can shield ourselves from God’s love but it remains constant, always and everywhere available.  We can lock ourselves in the dark, cold dungeon of serious sin but the sun of God’s love does not go out.  The only change resulting from our sins is   in us.  We grow cold and our world turns dark.

We reflect on our sinfulness to arouse in ourselves a spirit of repentance, not in the sense of being preoccupied with sin in ourselves in a purely negative way.  Our aim      is to place ourselves before the fullness of God’s loving mercy.

The past cannot be relived but it can always be repaired.  None of our sins is decisive.  God’s merciful forgiveness is always available. There is no mistake, however radical or disastrous, however much shame or guilt it may have brought into our lives, that it cannot be repaired by the healing power of God made available to us through the cross of Jesus.