Friday, 28 February 2014
The Sin of God
In a dissertation during my time in seminary I noticed that, my typing never being good, I had frequently typed the phrase ‘Son of God’ with a lower-case ‘s’. I had a function on my then-computer of ‘replace all’, so I retyped the phrase and pressed ‘replace all’. On getting the paper back after marking I was horrified to see that although I had corrected the lower case ‘s’, I had replaced the ‘o’ in ‘son’ with an ‘i’; consequently, the dissertation was replete with the phrase “The Sin of God”. While I can look back on it now with some humour, there are situations in which the ‘sin’ of God is far from humorous. Read on...
Last weekend I said in my homily that sin is not a natural part of humanity; that it is the result of the fall and that in fact, sin makes us less than human. Our Lord and Our Lady were perfectly human and perfectly sinless. After Mass Andrew was asked by one of the youngsters (about 11 years old), “Didn’t Jesus sin only once, when he cleared the temple and turned their tables over?” Andrew said no; that this was not a sin; Our Lord was acting in rightful anger; doing a good act by putting sin out of the temple. The boy responded, “But our teachers told us Jesus sinned when he got angry and tipped the tables over”. Andrew asked the boy to speak to me, and the whole conversation took place again, this time between me and the youngster. I asked which teachers had told him this and he gave me two names, saying that he’d heard all the teachers’ say it at some time or other. Sadly, this youngster is in a Catholic school...
I have two ladies in my parish, both in their 50’s, who claim to have been given house-points at school for saying that the only sin Jesus committed was turning over the tables. I thought such nonsense had stopped. It obviously has not. Any priest would feel the need to address this with the school, but might be undercut by someone quoting Pope Francis who reportedly said that:
“When we go to confession, for example, it isn’t that we say our sin and God forgives us. No, not that! We look for Jesus Christ and say: 'This is your sin, and I will sin again'. And Jesus likes that, because it was his mission: to become the sinner for us, to liberate us.” (Vatican News, homily at Mass at the Casa Santa Martha).
I think I can see what Francis is saying: that Jesus has been made sin for us in the sense of 2 Cor.5v21, and that we are likely to sin again, as in Rom.7v15. But his words are not clear; they will confuse many of the faithful, I think, and be misread by those who actively seek to undo the Faith. I can only hope that our Catholic teachers are not following Francis on the web (what a sad thing to say) since he is not always easy to read in an orthodox way. Indeed, the selected quote even implies that we need no firm purpose of amendment: “I will sin again”. We have seen how he was misinterpreted by the world when he said in response to a question on homosexuality, “Who am I to judge?”, for although he was rightly saying he cannot judge individual souls he cannot have been undoing 2000 years of Church teaching by saying he cannot judge homosexual acts. The world, however, claimed he was changing Doctrine and refusing to condemn homosexuality per se. Francis words carry much weight as Pope; I hope and pray that insight by Rome as to how the world is abusing Francis’ words will bring about a change.