Monday, August 20, 2012

How wrong can wrong be?

Obviously the reference in the heading here is to sin!  I am presently doing the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius and have just completed a few intensive weeks of reflecting on sin in the world and in my own world.  I was particularly intrigued with the many ways in which sin has evolved in our lives, how we allow it to master us and how it controls us. Here are some thoughts on... 

The Sin of One Person

Consider the effect of the sin of one person on others and you will realise that here we are talking of a person who chooses definitively to go against God. This person could be like the rich man in Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31). Imagine what it would be like for a person to be totally closed off from God's love.  When you use your imagination to reflect on this situation with modern-day counterparts and based on the current century's sad history of sin, violence, genocide, and injustice, you will realise that things haven't changed much since Jesus' time.

It is not that easy to think of what goes on in such a person's mind when one decides to take on God and go against him directly.  Does one really realise the enormity of one's actions? I think that to sin against God you must really be stooping so low in your life that you cannot distinguish the difference between good and evil, right and wrong.

If you will have have made yourself insensitive to this interior balance, you will have become an "evil" machine that reacts like a human being that does what "it" likes and feels it wants to do, instead of the conscientious human being that God created so that He can shower His blessings and love over His creation. In the Lazarus/rich man parable, the rich man has become everything that is despicable, a greedy, rich and unfeeling person who is unable to see favour in other beings. To him they are probably all equivalent to dogs.  I just read of one of my countrymen who was arrested for keeping East European girls as sex slaves to be used for prostitution. He had lost the dignity of calling himself a human being in the way he reacted with other God-creatures.

Taking the modern image to this parable a little further we can also see how some political leaders can become dictators when they lose all sense of their leadership including their sensitivity to their subjects by imposing their own will on them.  And by not respecting that of their subjects as well.  They see themselves as Gods and their subjects as no better than dogs.  History is littered with similar figures... Hitler, Amine, Hussein, and Gaddafi being recent additions from our lifetime. 

But closer to home I am sure many of you reading this know of someone who has left his/her partner for another purely for the excitement that this brings to their ego.  Yet they fail to see the demoralising and somewhat degrading effect this can leave on their partner.  A jilted wife may say "If he can do it so can I" and the story continues to grow.  The ripple effect of one's sin on another has continued to increase and others may be hurt in the process.  Perhaps even their children, if there are any.  And the sin continues on its inexorable way of destruction of life.

I concluded that when a person is able to become something like any of the above examples then one will have lost all of one's humanity. And becomes no better than an animal.  We may know people in these circumstances and perhaps try to ignore their plight by persuading ourselves that it is not our business to interfere.  But isn't that like compounding the error?

I think....that is what sin does to you.  The march of the sin of one that rampages on....inexorably. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Where Heaven meets Earth

When we come across a particularly beautiful and tranquil place we often mutter "It's Heaven here!"  But is there a place where we can go to which is where Heaven and earth actually meet? 

An interesting legend I recently read goes that a particularly learned monk who lived in a monastery built far away in the wilderness, found details of this place where earth and Heaven actually meet.  In his heart he had this sudden urge to go and start living there till the Lord would decide it was his time to be called home. 

So he wrote down the details of the route he needed to take, said his farewells to his fellow brother monks and left in search of this ideal place.

He walked down valleys and up mountains.  He passed through forests full of wild animals and poisonous insects.  He suffered hunger and pain as well as great heat or bone-biting cold. Yet his wish to reach this ideal place was so great that it drove him on and on.  He continued to travel at a fast pace so he wouldn't dally.  He wanted to get there as soon as possible.

One day he checked his papers again and realised that he should soon be reaching his goal.  He saw a building in the distance which was also clearly marked on the chart he had.  It stood out starkly against the great wilderness of the mountainside. All alone.  Somehow he seemed to be familiar with it but not wanting to waste time in useless thinking he pressed on.  Now, after all these months of painstaking travelling he was finally nearing his goal.  

As soon as he got to the door he found it was closed.  With a beating heart he knocked and the door opened.  There in front of him was his fellow brother monk who was responsible for the entrance to the monastery.  He received a great welcome and soon they were joined by all the other monks of the monastery who further fussed in greeting him .  He had been away for quite a few months but now he was back with them.  They even rang the monastery bells in joy of his safe return.  But the monk realised that he had come back from where he has left.  Because he had already found Heaven and was living there...yet he hadn't realised it.   

Does the same happen to us?  Let's praise God for the present and wish less for another (unattainable) place which we might think is ideal for us, where there are no crosses to carry and neither problems to face daily. 

We will never find such an ideal place in this world because there's nothing like Heaven.  Really!

The Last Word?

Make yourself at home here, come back and read some of the older cappuccino posts too, relax, reflect.... and comment if you wish....there's a comment button at the end of each post!
I hope to see you again in a few days time. Enjoy.