Sin, Punishment, Repentance, Return
Hello and welcome to Spend Five with Jesus for this Friday, October 6th, 2023. I am the Friar. It is wonderful to have you with us today.
Today in the first reading for Mass we hear from the prophet Baruch. Now many of you may not know who Baruch is. He was an assistant to Jeremiah and if you remember anything about the time of Jeremiah there are maybe two things that are important to call to mind. One is that Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet, and, and I mention that because Jeremiah, he wore his emotions on his sleeve.
And the second thing is maybe the degree to which it is important to recognize that things for Jeremiah did not go well. People didn’t listen to him. They didn’t change their ways and so forth.
And so this book of Baruch, which was originally perhaps called the Letter of Jeremiah, or at least the section we hear today. was called the letter of Jeremiah, was something to kind of help to express, well what’s going on? What is it that in fact is important in the lives of the people?
And really it is a message that one really identifies that you know what we did not follow God at all and our lives became a mess and hence the exile. And it is a letter, I think, that also on some level preserves the mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, the restoration of the relationship.
This letter, in fact, is quite related to things that we read in the book of Deuteronomy, where there is kind of this cycle, and this kind of describes so many moments in the history of Israel, this cycle of sin, then punishment for the sin, the people turn back to God in terms of repentance, and then they return. They return either to a deeper relationship with God or they return in this case literally back to Jerusalem where they were exiled because of their sin.
So it’s really an important cycle for us and I want to talk a little bit about that cycle today and maybe to to challenge you to think a little bit about your own life in terms of this cycle. So all of us sin. St. Paul’s letter to the Romans makes it clear we’ve all sinned, we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. We’ve turned our back on God, it’s been deliberate, it’s been purposeful, we knew what we should have done, but we chose to do the sinful action anyway.
And it’s important to know that. This isn’t like just an accident, a mistake, something like that. It is really sin. It is a deliberate rejection of God’s love because we wanted to do what we wanted to do even though we knew it was contrary to the will of God. So that’s the first thing, this kind of understanding of sin.
And then secondly, to recognize that oftentimes when we sin, the consequences of that sin are not so pleasant. We can find in our own lives that the consequences of sin make things worse. You know, if you think of yourself as a little child and your parents said can eat all the candy you want, you might very well have to face the punishment of getting sick because you don’t know when to stop. You don’t know what’s too much candy.
When we get in this situation, we often recognize that we’re in this bad situation on some level because of what we’ve done. That the consequences of our actions by not following the Lord in our lives requires us to recognize that we need of repentance. We need to regret our sinfulness. We need to be a desirous of being converted from our sinfulness and we express our sorrow and our desire to change, which then leads to our return to God.
And this is a really helpful, I think, kind of description of the spiritual life, namely that even though we sin and there are negative consequences, we can turn away from that sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and then return back to a relationship with God.
The primary way to do this, of course, for Catholics is the sacrament of confession, which is a really, really powerful way to understand what it is that God wants to help us to do. So maybe ask God today, where is it that you need God’s help in identifying your sin.
Where is it that God can help you to really engage in a good examination of conscience? And where is it, most especially, that God is calling you to turn away from sin and return to a life-giving relationship
On the friar, you can listen to our homilies (based on the readings of the day) and reflections. You can also ask us to pray for you or to pray for others. You can subscribe to our website to be informed whenever we publish an update.