CLEANSING FROM AFFECTION FOR SIN

Tuesday, 4th Week of Lent

            It is an odd question for Jesus to ask the ailing man, “Do you want to be well?” Maybe there was something in his never getting to the healing waters in time that led the Lord to see some reluctance on his part to get well. Maybe he had become accustomed to his illness just as we can become accustomed to sin.

            This question of Jesus, “Do you want to be well?” recalls a reflectionfrom St. Francis de Sales in his Introduction to the Devout Life. St. Francis speaks about two cleansings from sin that we all need. The first cleansing is through Confession.

            The second cleansing is a deeper one from affection for sin. St. Francis says that many people resolve never to sin again but with a certain reluctance to give up the ‘delights’ of sin. The will renounces sin but the heart keeps looking for pleasure. He compares it to a physician telling us to stay away from certain foods and drinks that we enjoy. We follow his or her instructions for a while because we do not want to die. But soon we give in to temptation because we really do not want to give them up.

            Joseph Krempa, in his commentary on today’s gospel passage, says, “The antidote to repeated sin is to convince ourselves of the evil of sin – not sin in general but specific sins.” We need to seriously examine what is really wrong with falsehood, deception, gossip, malicious talk… with infidelity, illicit affair, extra-marital relationship… with excessive eating, drinking, gambling, shopping… with pornography, lustful desire, lascivious act, etc. Rather than trying to avoid them only because the Church says so, we need to convince ourselves of the evil they embody.

            Once we are convinced of the evil of these sins, we will more easily avoid them because we come to detest them. We should see how they are damaging our sisters and brothers who are made in the image and likeness of God. And we should also see how it is destroying our dignity as children of God, and how we are hurting God.

            As we continue our Lenten journey, let us ask for this particular grace: the cleansing from affection for sin. We need this grace in order not to fall back into sin repeatedly. May we deepen our desire to be really and totally healed. May we know the true healing that can be ours in Christ.

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