From a talk I gave this morning at Seton High School, more or less:
You are all sinners.
It is true, it goes all the way back to Genesis when we first disobeyed God and tried to become like him: knowing good from evil. Unfortunately, we can’t tell the difference and our appetites start to get the best of us.
Before we go on, look at what we lost: immortality, freedom, joy, a close communion with God in that we were free to walk with Him and speak with Him. All of a sudden, there was a wedge: we became afraid of God, instinctively we know God is greater than we are, yet we are threatened, confronted, we want that for ourselves. And the challenge persists. Now we have to work for what we have left. It is no fun to do so.
All throughout history, God has tried to restore this relationship: He wants us to live forever, the Tree of Life has not been destroyed, but we need to find a new way to get back there so that we can eat from it. The way is finally set when Jesus comes to give us a pathway back to the Father.
Why did He come? "I came so that you might have life, and have it abundantly!" "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that those who believe in His name might have Eternal Life!" Those are pretty powerful statements that Jesus makes in the Gospel accounts.
However, in order to get to that point, we must first recognize our own sinfulness, our own weaknesses, our failings and foibles. Remember, who does Jesus seek out the most in the Gospel: people who thought that they had it all together or those who realized that they needed his grace and presence? It is usually the latter of the two: tax collectors, prostitutes, widows, orphans, lepers; those who were on the outskirts of the main Jewish society and needed to be healed from their sins and failings.
I think a big question today, though, is what is a sin, or what is sin? I think in order to answer that, we have to look at first what is the goal of the Christian life: what does Jesus want us to do? Simple, grow in relationship with him: "If you wish to be my disciples, take up your cross and follow after me!" Grow in an awareness of love: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
How do we grow in love of God? We must die to ourselves and live for the other: your friends, your classmates, your siblings, even your enemies, those you can’t stand. St. Therese of Little Flower
Now, if you think that the priest is going to laugh, is going to think you’re terrible; honestly, we’ve heard it all before. Obviously, I can’t really share stories of things, but there is very little that I haven’t heard. (I hear confessions every day at the Cathedral…)
St. Peter at the end of the Gospel of John