Admonish Sinners

11. A Moment for Mercy - Admonish Sinners

It is not easy to speak of sin in our times, and much less of sinners. We live in a very pluralistic culture, which easily becomes relativistic, considering all options as equal, and believing it is practically impossible to say which is the better.

At the same time we have created all sorts of mechanisms to combat what we consider unacceptable behaviour: whistleblower laws, commissions against corruption, together with an endless series of increasingly detailed codes of ethics. The media seems very interested in unearthing scandals of all sorts, and hounds mercilessly those it considers to have misbehaved.

Sin has to do with our relationship to God, the most sacred and private area of life, and Jesus rightly invites us not to judge. In spite of all this, we have been obsessed with sin for centuries, fearing that anything we do could well be tainted with sin; this produced a spirituality that was built more on fear and scruples than on love and freedom.

Yet we all feel from time to time that things can go too far, that we are called to do something, on the personal and the social level. Invoking the right of others to choose and our duty to respect their choices can serve as a convenient screen for abdicating from our responsibility to others. Parents feel afraid to challenge their children’s behaviour, and citizens prefer to claim they have lost their trust in politics rather than contest unacceptable behaviour by political and business leaders.  This disinterest in others countenances an inordinate amount of suffering, most of all for the more vulnerable, especially children and the poor.

Admonishing those we see to be on the wrong track, when done out of real concern and love, can make a huge difference to a person's life. It is a real work of mercy.

By Paul Pace, SJ 

Today's video is a song, 'The Hurt and the Healer' by MercyMe, on the grace of receiving mercy and healing.

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