John the Baptist preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Some heard the message, got into the water and repented. Others just walked away.
In order to repent we have to be aware of what sin is. When I was a child, almost everything was a sin. We were told to go to confession once a week, or every time that we were going to receive Holy Communion. Just thinking about sinning was a sin. Almost every couple out on a date had a chaperone. Our prohibited books were National Geographic magazine and Grandmothers medical journal with pictures of the human anatomy. Men and women wore a lot more clothes. Dresses were down to the floor, then to the ankles, then to the knees, etc. Guess that clothes are like the ecomomy—they just keep getting higher. From transistor radio to I Pad. From having only one or two channels on the TV to over 900 possibilities of entertainment. The censorship of what was considered family time viewing has changed. Television, movies, mobile phones have influenced the way we live. Children are exposed to images, which a few years back would have made an adult blush with shame. Our society has gone from thinking that everything was a sin to thinking that nothing is a sin. Both extremes are dangerous. Sin is a word that we use often but sometimes have no concept of the true meaning. Sin is not a thought, but an action. Temptations usually come as thoughts; but temptations are not sins. Jesus was tempted but never sinned. Three conditions have to exist for a sin to be serious, what we call mortal sin. The matter has to be grave. We have to know that something is serious. Lots of folks say, “Well I don’t know if I did wrong.” Well then you didn’t. We have to contemplate the sin—have to think about it and want to commit the action. Then we have to actually commit the sin.
Mortal sin is serious stuff. All three steps have to happen. “I thought about killing my mother in law.” Did you kill her? No, but I thought about it. If that’s as far as you got, don’t worry. Perhaps you ought to give her a warning. Maybe she’ll move out. We are bombarded with temptations every day. Some temptations are about insignificant stuff, others are serious. That’s where discernment comes in—spiritual maturity. Not the same to stick a knife in someone’s tires than to stick a knife is someone’s stomach. Both should be avoided, but they aren’t at the same level of importance.
Capital sins are not just committed at the Capitol. Pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth. Notice that pride is listed first. The reason is that every sin in the Bible falls under the sin of pride. The one that our first parents committed in the Garden was the sin of disobedience—because of pride. The capital sins are starting points that give rise other sins. Examinations of conscience have been printed to help us prepare for confession. But they are usually very generic. Some are based on the Ten Commandments. Once had a 2nd grader come in for 1st confession. (Big sinners—all those 2nd graders!) The purpose is to get them accustomed to coming and not be afraid. Imagine, hearing a 2nd grader confess to adultery—5 times. After a little questioning the child had no idea of what he was saying. Most children have to grow up with enough guilt from the negativity around them. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for rejoicing. All the people in the Gospel stories jumped for joy when Jesus forgave their sins. He told them not to tell anyone and they never stopped proclaiming His praises. To be forgiven saves lots of dollars in therapy. Nobody else can do that for us. “I confess to God directly, in my room.” Good for you. But you’re missing out. The best deal in town is free. Just have to be a little humble and admit that we are part of a community of sinners.
God already knows what we did. Yet, God never stops loving us, even when we are sinning. He is waiting to heal us. All we have to do is come and repent.