The mind and body have a very powerful influence on the way we act and react, but in the background there always lurks the conscience, that something, which reminding us of the real truth, the truth as taught by Jesus. Because it’s more comfortable to let the mind have its way, we often allow it to override our conscience and so we sin.
In today’s Old Testament reading we hear how two senior members of the Jewish community, let their mind and physical desires, override their conscience and so they sinned – big time. This led them gradually, to more and more offences against God, because to cover up their sins, they came up with lies that covered their lustful faults, and this in turn, led to more and more lies.
This is why so-called venial sins are so insidious. On their own, they do not completely cut us off from God, but if we ignore these “minor issues” they pile up and sooner than later, we end up turning our back on God’s teachings and this eventually places us firmly in a state of serious or mortal sin, cut off from God.
The good news for us is that all is not lost, because if we go to today’s gospel, written by John, we see God’s mercy and compassion coming to the fore.
God, through Jesus Christ, foils the deceit and duplicity of the scribes and Pharisees by playing them at their own game. When they present him with a woman, “caught in the very act of adultery”, and ask him if the woman should be stoned to death, Jesus replies, “Let the one who has committed no sin, throw the first stone.”
This puts the ball firmly in their court! Then bending down he writes in the dust, probably highlighting their most secret sins. These strict observers of the law are forced to back down, because their own (so-called) little venial sins having deadened their consciences over time, forced them into a state of mortal sin. This is now made very clear to them.
God has left them in no doubt about their own guilt, in all its gruesome detail. It makes them as guilty as those that they were accusing, and therefore as liable to be stoned to death as the woman they had accused.
This makes even the apostles sit up and take note, because we hear them ask, “If that is the case how can anyone be saved?” The response Jesus gives them, is also our saving grace, because it tells us, that on our own we cannot succeed in gaining eternal glory, but with Gods help it becomes possible.
There are, however, two things that we need to remember: we must make the first move and ask God for his help, then secondly we must try as hard as we can to avoid the occasions of sin. In other words we must also come to the party.
Read the scriptures often, and in particular the Gospels, so that you are well informed about the teachings of Jesus and eager to follow them. This will help you to avoid all those so-called venial sins that can place you in a state of serious or mortal sin.
Then pray, that God will give you the courage, the strength and the wisdom to follow his teachings.
Lord God, through the wisdom of the scriptures and with your help, point me to the way I should follow you in my quest for love of you and love of neighbour, knowing that if I follow in the footsteps of Jesus I will enjoy eternal life with you in heaven. Amen. Change my Heart O God!