IN OUR age of politically correct euphemisms, in which toilets become ‘bathrooms’ even when there is no bath in sight, death becomes ‘passing’ and euthanasia becomes ‘assisted dying,’ we desperately seek to take the hard edges of the truth with softer verbal packaging.
In this same world where we seek to anaesthetise reality so that we can somehow remain comfortable, in control and germ-free, we avoid the use of the word ‘sin’ as if the sinful part of life has gone out of fashion.
We can then justify everything we do that once fell under the heading of the seven deadly sins!
Well I’m sorry to disappoint, but sin is as alive and well as ever it was.
When we hear this, we may immediately divert our attention to acts of terrorism, racism, domestic violence, oppressive policies, all of which are caused by ‘others, ‘ who in the moral lexicon of Donald Trump are ‘the bad guys.’
* * *
WE LOOK in the mirror probably each day and see the signs of ageing, weight loss or gain, tiredness, spots bumps and all manner of deterioration.
We seem to have no trouble attending to these with our lotions, injections, creams and masks!
It’s a different thing to look into the mirror and view the state of our own soul.
Our many euphemisms, along with our preoccupation with work, entertainment, wealth, appearance and status, serve to save us from looking at our souls too closely.
It’s a sick society indeed that runs for cover whenever the signs of our wounded self dare to surface.
It’s a wonderful paradox that a healthy, joyful, liberated self can emerge from a good honest visit to the heart of things, within ourselves and among ourselves.
Standing face to face with our sins, (and I can easily lend you some if you are a bit short!), we are stripped naked and our defences are gone.
However, in that moment, we discover that we are not alone.
It’s then we come face-to-face with that Love which conceived and birthed us. It is that Love which breaks through into our sinful self and sinful world for which we wait during Advent and which we celebrate each Christmas time.
When this Love breaks through, our sinful self has nowhere to hide and nothing to fear.
Our sinful self is held in the arms of utter forgiveness. Nothing is brushed under the carpet and nothing is beyond the embrace of this love and mercy.
In this utterly truthful encounter, there is no need for euphemisms, avoidance or distractions.
* * *
THIS LOVE is more than enough to hold our gaze, heal our wounds, satisfy our deepest hungers.
So loved and forgiven, we cannot help but become bearers of this Love for others.
It is now our turn to give birth to this Love at every opportunity. It doesn’t have to be trail-blazing, exciting, mind-blowing or awesome or any of the other epithets we love to use to describe today’s peak experiences.
It can be something as simple as a humble birth in a stable full of the dung of life and the warmth of innocence such as that provided by the animals at Bethlehem so long ago.
Dare we visit our sinful selves this Christmas and encounter there the Love that alone makes all things new?
Father KEVIN BATES SM is Parish Priest of the Holy Name of Mary Church at Hunters Hill.