Daily Office Readings – Gospel ( Mark 1:14-28 )
Today, in my Spanish class, one of the people used the phrase ‘sin embargo,’ which means ‘nevertheless.’ But every time I hear it, I say to myself that a ‘sin embargo’ is what is supposed to happen during Lent.
Sin is something we are supposed to be thinking about during Lent, though preferably about how much God loves us and how great the gift of our salvation is, rather than dwelling on all the horrible things we have done. We are to think about how to draw closer to God by “persevering in resisting evil,” and repenting and returning to God when we don’t succeed in that.
This upcoming Sunday Lectionary has Jesus speaking with Nicodemus about spiritual regeneration using the well known John 3:16. My dad, who was preparing for a Sunday School class at his own church made an interesting comment about the book his Sunday School class was using. He said that there was an enormous amount of emphasis on the salvation event in this booklet, but very little mention about what we are are actually being saved from.
So, as I read Jesus’ words in the Gospel reading today, “Repent, and believe in the good news,” it got me to thinking about conversations I’ve had with a few people regarding sin. One of the conversations was in a Bible Study class, where someone mentioned that they do not believe that we are inherently evil (a.k.a Original Sin). Now, another person agreed, though only to a point, stating that we are inclined toward evil by our very nature, and that even though we may not have been born into sin per se, we cannot avoid it as we grow older, since sin is the manifestation of our own selfishness. The first person, however, did not like that response and said that we were not, in fact, sinful. When I, and a few others, asked why we would need Jesus’ death to save us from our sins, this person had no answer, but still refused to give up the idea that they were sinless.
Now, this is often something you hear from people who don’t know much about the Christian faith. The question about what we are being saved from often comes up for people who are wondering what it means to be saved, saying something similar to “But I’m a good person.”
However, I usually don’t have to field the question from people who have gone through Catechism and Confirmation. The Catechism has a section on Sin and Redemption which indicates that sin separates us from God, and that we need a savior, Jesus. The Confirmation liturgy has a question from the Bishop to the candidates that reads, ” Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?” The Articles of Faith has a section titled “Of Original or Birth Sin,” (Section IX) and which should normally be covered in Catechism.
Since, in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus himself tells us that we need to repent and believe in the good news – the good news being that he was sent by God to redeem us from our sins so that we can enter into heaven and have eternal life – I figure that there must be something to this sin thing after all.
And again, sin is something that we are supposed to be thinking about during this time of Lent. We are supposed to be thinking more about how we can draw closer to God by seeking forgiveness and regeneration of our minds rather than dwelling on our sin.
But we must never assume that we are sinless.