Hebrews 12:1-4 describes our journey to heaven as a race. We’re in a life-long marathon, running a race against our own sinful tendencies. What slows us down is the dead weight of the sins that we’ve not yet identified, or we’ve not yet regretted, or we’ve not yet surrendered to the mercy of God.
Unless we deliberately and consciously struggle against sin and force ourselves to receive the blessings of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to pay attention during the Penance Rite at the beginning of Mass, we get overtaken by temptations and doubts, and we stumble and hit the pavement with our back-sides.
To stay on track and keep moving forward until we win the race, we must fix our eyes on Jesus.
Sin happens when we find ourselves in a situation that we don’t like and we choose to take the easy way out. For example, by focusing on our problems instead of God’s promises, it seems necessary to choose unheavenly and unChrist-like methods of coping. That’s why an abortion can appear to be a good solution, for example, or divorce or marriage outside the Sacrament of Marriage.
Or, if we fixate on the evil-doings of those who cause us misery, we miss the fact that Jesus is trying to teach us a better way or more spiritually mature way to resolve the conflict. Thus, we give in to the temptation to retaliate or despair or contribute to further division.
To achieve a real victory, we must implement Christ’s way of love, even if this means sacrificing the easy way out. Victory is never found on the safe side of the cross; it’s found on the far side, the resurrection side that comes only after laying down our lives for the sake of others.
There is no glorious solution to hardships without dying to ourselves and nailing our personal desires to the cross of Christ. As followers of Christ, we must accept our hardships as the gifts that they truly are.
Parishes are supposed to be reflections of Christ’s love, making them a good example that evangelizes the world. Hardships are resurrected into victorious love when the pastor and staff and involved parishioners go to the cross and through the cross for each other, sacrificing their anger (justified or not), dying to their impatience and unforgiveness and personal demands. This unconditional love is a lesson on how to develop peace in society.
The divisiveness of scandals within the Church can only be resurrected into a witness of Christ’s healing and unifying love when we’re not afraid to take it to the cross and through the cross, addressing the real issues and working for justice within our own communities. In the race against sin, the losers are those who are weighed down by the fear of public exposure and persecution. The victors are those who embrace the scandal as a gift that helps perfect the Body of Christ.
Sin wins the race unless we run to the cross and go through it — with Christ — to the victory of a resurrected life that’s been perfected in love.
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© 2018 by Terry A. Modica
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