Tag Archives: Sin

Spiritual blindness: Part 1

Jesus light of the world

Blindness is fundamentally described as the inability to see. That could go two ways: the inability to see with our physical eyes or the inability to see through our eyes of faith. In relation to the latter-spiritual blindness-a majority of us live in darkness, and some of us don’t even realize it. It could be anger that keeps us in darkness; refusing to see past it and making decisions when angry, which in most cases turn out to be wrong. It could be jealousy or lust…the list is endless. Every person knows specifically what keeps them away from the light.

Many are afflicted by spiritual blindness, and there is only one cure for it; to trust in God. In John 9: 1-41, we’re told the story of a man born blind who was healed by Jesus: He and His disciples were walking when they saw the man. His disciples asked, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents’ sin?”

Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sin. He is blind so that God’s power might be seen at work in him. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent us. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After He said this Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with the spittle. He rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam (which means sent). So the man went and washed his face and came back seeing.

His neighbours couldn’t believe him when he told them Jesus had healed him; they took him to the Pharisees, who also started questioning him on the same. When Jesus heard what had happened, He found the man and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

The man answered, “Tell me who He is so that I can believe in Him.”

Jesus said to him, “You have already seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you now.”

“I believe, Lord!” The man said, and knelt down before Jesus.

Jesus said, “I came to this world to judge, so that the blind should see and those who see should become blind.”

Some Pharisees who were there with Him heard Him say this and asked Him, “Surely, You don’t mean that we are blind too?”

Jesus answered, “If you were blind you wouldn’t be guilty. But since you claim you can see, this means that you are still guilty.”

This is an abridged version of the chapter as the original version is quite long. Basically, we see Jesus restoring the man’s physical and spiritual sight. The Pharisees could see with their physical eyes, but were spiritually blind because they did not believe Jesus was the Son of God.

Believing in God heals us off our spiritual blindness because with the belief comes the strength to live in accordance with God’s Holy will. Spiritual blindness refers to sin. And in the bible, even physical blindness was associated with sin; that’s why the disciples were quick to ask Jesus who was responsible for the man’s blindness; if it was his own sins or his parents’.

Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will have the light of life.”

 

Judging ‘men of the cloth’

men of cloth

Everytime I’m dealing with other people, I always remind myself, that just like me, they’re also human. It doesn’t matter if one’s a priest or a renowned celebrity; we’re all human. And to be human is to err. A few years ago, when I was in my last year of high school, I came across a friend’s prayer book. While perusing through the pages I saw an interesting piece. It wasn’t exactly a prayer, but the words changed my entire perspective on how I deal with religious people.

It was written that everytime one sees/hears a priest doing/saying wrong things, one shouldn’t go about discussing them but they should pray for them. At the time, I remembered all the weird things I’d heard about priests… Just because they’re ordained to lead God’s flock doesn’t stop them from being human. I remembered all the rumours I’d heard about some priests having affairs with women when they were sworn to celibacy; I remembered of a particular priest, who always came to celebrate mass with his eyes red as cherries because he’d been drinking. I remembered of a certain priest, who was alleged to have fathered a girl I schooled with.

Before that day I had freely taken part in talking about those ordained men of God; criticizing them for their misdemeanours. Normally, when we see/hear wrong things about others, even when we can’t quite do anything about it, we discuss it with others. That piece opened my eyes though. Priests and other men of God are representatives of Christ, but at the end of the day, it still doesn’t change the fact that these same people are only human. They are prone to temptations just like any person.

It’s like teachers; they fall in love with their students even when they know it’s against school policy. We don’t will for these things to happen; they just happen. As I read that book I realized we also had a responsibility to pray for our shepherds. It takes more than enough will to walk on a straight path. I know it’s not as easy.

A few months ago, I was following three telenovelas. Naturally a large part of the Spanish population is Catholic. As I watched the three soaps at different times, something happened; in all the three soaps, three priests had been made privy to life-changing confessions, and none of them could reveal any of the information as they had received it under the secrecy of confession. I couldn’t help pitying them.

Priests know so many things but they can’t reveal any of it as they’re bound by the confession oath-the seal of the confessional-which prohibits them from repeating anything revealed to them during the sacrament of penance. I imagined what strength it took walking around, carrying such heavy loads on their shoulders and I came to one conclusion; it’s not easy being a man of God-the real anointed ones, not the fake ones. It takes strength to defy all temptations, especially knowing that they are under public scrutiny, and that above all they made a solemn vow to God; to be priests forever.

In some unfortunate instances, unscrupulous men hide behind the cloth and commit preposterous obscenities, but there are those genuine men/women of God, who in their human weaknesses falter and make wrong choices. The best thing to do is not to sit and judge, but to pray for them.

In my opinion, being an anointed servant of God shouldn’t stop one from being subjected to the law of man; don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time… but I believe prayers help put things into perspective. In the wake of all the atrocities committed by the servants of God, who we put so much faith in but who many detest now, I feel that it’s our duty as their flock to pray for them.

In Colossians 4: 2-4, Paul says, “Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. At the same time, pray also for us, so that God will give us a good opportunity to preach His message about the secret of Christ…”

We may not be able to help the choices they make, but we can intercede for them, so that God guides them as they spread His word.

 

 

The truth will set you free

the truth will set you free

‘The truth will set you free.’ How many times have I heard this statement? Too many times I lost count. This statement could be viewed from many perspectives, but I want to look at it from the blackmail point of view. When someone is being blackmailed, I feel like they’re in a prison with invisible bars. You see one walking on the streets, but deep inside they know they’re caged.

People err, that’s human nature; but sometimes one feels they’ve done something that’s so wrong so they choose to keep it to themselves. Unfortunately someone else finds out accidentally. They hold it over their head, using it to hold them prisoners. One ends up becoming a prisoner of their own sins.

A priest in my church told a story about a young boy; he lived with his grandmother and sister. His grandmother had a cat she loved so much, but one day while playing with it, he accidentally killed it. He freaked out, so he told his sister about it, asking her to keep it a secret. His sister was reluctant; she wanted to tell on him, but after he pleaded with her not to tell their grandmother, she agreed, but on one condition: he would have to do all her house chores.

The boy agreed gladly. If the sister had some chore to do, she would ask him to do it. The boy did it all stoically; it was better than their grandmother finding out what he had done; he was afraid she would be so furious with him; that she would punish him. If their grandmother asked his sister to do anything, she would call him and ask him to do it. He’d become his sister’s prisoner. After a while the young boy realized he couldn’t put up with his sister’s blackmail, so he decided to come clean.

Meekly, he walked to his grandmother and told him what he had done. The grandmother just smiled and told him, “I already knew my cat died. I was watching you play with it when it did, but I already forgave you. I was only waiting for you to find the courage to come to me.”

“So you’re not mad at me grandma?” The boy asked, surprised and excited at the same time.

“No, I’m not,” his grandmother smiled.

The next time his sister asked him to do her laundry, he refused. “I’ll tell on you,” she threatened.

Courageously, he just told her, “Go ahead.” His sister was shocked; she hadn’t seen that coming. In life we find ourselves in such situations. One does something, but because they are afraid of the consequences they let people blackmail them; and the thing with blackmail is that once a person falls into that hole, it starts to feel like an abyss; falling deeper and deeper into it, without feeling like there could be a possible way out.

Depending on the magnitude of what they did, some people feel like sinners; slowly they pull away from God, because they feel they are unworthy. They become prisoners of their sins. Like the boy’s grandmother, God sees the things we do, and forgives us long before we go to Him. So while one is slowly drifting away from God, afraid of His retribution, He already forgave them.

In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), when the son who had strayed found his way back to his father, his father had a banquet set for him. He didn’t reprimand him; the thought that his son had repented was enough for him.

God is so willing to take us back even when we feel we’ve committed the worst of crimes; He doesn’t hold grudges. He only wants us to realize our mistakes and repent, because it’s only by being penitent that we can rid our conscience off the heavy load. Once we confess we cease to be prisoners. If one was being blackmailed they find the courage to face their blackmailers.

Freedom is an integral thing in life; without it life feels miserable. When one tries to conceal something they did, even if no one blackmails them, they become tormented by their own conscience; that is bondage, and penance is the way out; it liberates us.

Personally I believe in Heaven, purgatory, even hell; all these are the afterlife destinations, which I know not many people like discussing because firstly it’s scary and two, not everyone is a Christian. From what I’ve gathered though, one doesn’t automatically go to hell because they did something everyone considers wrong. One could spend they’re whole life killing, and still end up in heaven; because it’s not the nature or the magnitude of the sin that matters, but if one repented it.

Take Paul for instance, formally known as Saul (Acts 9:1-19); he was a persecutor of Christians, but that didn’t stop God from forgiving him. What does that say about God? His love and mercy knows no bounds.

Love changes people

love changes

The term ‘Christian’ is so common. Basically it refers to someone who is a follower of Christ; someone who is Christ-like; but it so happens that many call themselves Christians, yet they hardly act like it. Personally I’m a Christian and I feel that sometimes we are so quick to condemn others; we judge them, take them to hell before they’re even dead. We shun people who we deem sinners; we refuse to mingle with them:

“She’s a prostitute,” one says. “I can’t be associated with her.”

“He’s gay,” another one says. “I can’t let people see us together.”

“She goes partying in clubs,” another one says, “That’s a sin.” These are some of the conversations I’ve heard. Once there’s this friend who posted on his fb page how he had felt extremely shaken when a guy he’d been hanging out with confessed he was gay. He was seeking public opinion via his page, if he should continue his association with the said gay guy. Out of curiosity, I read the comments, and I must say the things people said were awful. In my head I was like, “Christianity preaches against gayism, but this ain’t right.”

Then in another instance, which was more personal, I was chatting with a guy. The conversation got to a point where he asked if I ‘drink’. I didn’t think there was anything to lie about so I told him, “Yeah, sometimes I do.” Before I knew it he was calling me a sinner; saying how much I was shaming the church…by the time I decided to end that conversation he had told me some pretty nasty stuff. I felt offended that he would presume to judge me, but I laughed so hard, he got offended.

He thought I was mocking him, but I explained to him why I found his criticism hilarious: to start with, I rarely drink, and when I do, I keep it to a maximum of two glasses of wine (except for this one time I took more, but I only got tipsy; by the time my friends and I left the club, after lots of dancing and taking plenty of water, my head was clear). So I wouldn’t be lying if I said I’ve never been drunk my entire life… with that in mind, I found it hilarious when he called me a sinner…and not to mention that I know very many Christians who take alcohol and are wonderful people.

I did a little ‘digging’ about partaking in alcohol being considered a sin; I asked a priest to shed light on the matter. He told me the mere act of drinking isn’t really a sin; what comes out is what matters; you know people acting crazy and stuff because they’re inebriated…

I found it unbelievable that he would blatantly call me a sinner; last I checked, we’re all sinners, but somehow some people end up feeling like they’re lesser sinners than others. Nowadays I choose not to take alcohol, but for me it’s a personal choice; it has nothing to do with being branded a sinner.

Such instances leave me wondering why someone would want to judge others when they call themselves a Christian. The term is derived from ‘Christ’; those who follow Him. If I was to refer to bible verses where Jesus mingles with ‘sinners’, I would be basically making reference to the larger part of the New Testament.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbours without judging: when people wanted to stone the woman who had been accused of prostitution (John 8:7), He said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

In another instance He condemned judging, talking about people seeing specks in other people’s eyes when they had logs in their own eyes (Matthew 7). With respect to this, I know I’ve got huge logs in my eyes, so I prefer to let God be the judge in everything.

Hypothetically, these people we call sinners are indeed sinners; but question is, if we treat them like outcasts, who will change them? Jesus loved everyone; He didn’t look at their occupations, at their sexual orientation…He just loved them. When He visited Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) for instance, He didn’t condemn him because he was a thief. He said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” That’s how we as Christians are called to act; without discrimination. He set the precedent; to love others. I don’t recall verses where He shooed someone off because they were sinners; if we call ourselves His followers, why would we judge? Why would we discriminate?

It’s not our place to judge. We should love even those we feel are straying; because it’s only by showing them love that we can pull them back on track. In my opinion, the only time a person should stay away from someone they consider ‘a sinner’ (pardon the choice of word), would be if one is afraid they’re not strong enough; that they could be negatively influenced by the other person into straying, because it makes no sense if one ends up stealing because they were trying to get a thief to ‘see the light’…

Speaking from experience, it’s easier to change a person by showing them love as opposed to criticizing and condemning them. Personally, I feel more inclined to take someone’s advice if they seem compassionate; if they come off as harsh I get all defensive, and I have reason to believe that’s how a vast majority ‘functions’. No one likes to be judged.

‘What would Jesus do?’ That’s a question I use as my reference when faced with a situation where I’m not sure what I should do…and based on the scriptures, the answer would revolve around love; it’s the greatest of all virtues.

love