Friday, August 2, 2013

Sin, Crime, and Error

In today's gospel from St. Matthew we hear what I think of as one of the most tragic stories in the Bible. Jesus goes to is own hometown and we hear
A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.
To think that they had had in their midst for all that time God incarnate and missed out. Why?
Our faith tells us that Jesus was like us in all things but sin.
therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. (Hb 2:17)

This means he was not perfect.

In our modern age we seem to have forgotten the basic distinctions and remedies.
Crime- the violation of human law
Sin - the violation of God's law
Error- a mistake in judgement

Hiding Jews in Nazi Germany was a crime, but certainly not a sin, or an error.

And not every error is a sin or a crime. As Jesus grew up he most certainly would have erred as all children do. That's how we learn we perform a task over and over, being corrected until we develop the skill.

Because the people of Jesus's hometown could not distinguish error, they remembered his human imperfection and lost sight of who he really was. Like so many of us, they let the sight of the imperfect eradicate the good.

It seems to me that Pope Francis and Anthony Wiener have shown us the correctness of our Catholic faith.
While it is true in the early Church there was public confession and public penance, it did not take long for us to realize that confession of sin is best left in private.

The four parts of the sacrament are: contrition, confession, penance, and absolution. Public humiliation of self, and worse yet family members, is not called for. And the notion that "he needs to make a full confession, if he wants the people to forgive him" is nothing short of idolatry where we turn "the people" into God.

Christianity, Judaism, and Isalm each have some form of Penance. We would do well to encourage every believer beginning with ourselves to deal with our sin accordingly.
Pope Francis during the press conference on the plane on the way back from Brazil gave us the words to live by. When he explained that we must distinguish between crime and sin. With sin as he explained that once the sinner confesses God not only forgives but forgets. And if God forgets we have no right not to forget.

If a person has committed a crime, let the courts judge that.
If a Christian sins, let him go to confession.
If a person commits error, let them learn from their mistake.

And "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone ”