Sunday, July 9, 2017


Sin requires penance, but I’m trying to decide whether or not penance requires sin.  I think the answer is no, and you can hear more on this at FGT – The Podcast (linked here).

In the quintessential, tongue twisting, Pauline treatise on sin; we find Paul lamenting this sin that he keeps committing when he doesn’t even want to:

Romans 7:15-25a:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (NIV).

This might throw a wrench in our usual definition of sin.  Does it have to be willful?  How does this relate to sins of omission?  May we take responsibility even if we’re not directly culpable?  What are the benefits and disadvantages of such accountability?  Is it worth it?

Go ahead and count the cost, but I think the answer is tucked away with the perception and response of suffering people.  If we honestly care about the other; I think we have to be willing to embody restorative practices, even if the ‘fault’ cannot be traced directly to us.  This is the way of Jesus.  This is the way of the cross.

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