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The Corporate Nature of Sin and Forgiveness

May 10, AD2014 2 Comments

\"VictorI’ll never forget my gallbladder. We lived together and ate together and ultimately did everything together. I went nowhere without him.  It wasn’t until I saw that continuing our relationship could kill me did I end our life long relationship with the help of physicians. So interesting that one rotten relationship can jeopardize the entire body.   This fact of life is not just true on a physical level. The life of the body of Christ is no different-a fact of which St. Paul reminds us.  Just like my sick gallbladder, the spiritually sick can cause illness to spread throughout the entire body.

For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another (Cf. Romans 12:4-5).

In Romans, Paul reminds us that in the mystical body of Christ, as in the human body, there are many parts, which while remaining individual are somehow interconnected. On a physical level, we can all relate to this to one degree or another. But, how does it apply to the mystical body of Christ?

How often has someone we know been ill for a rather long period of time and failed to realize it? Perhaps our mother was diagnosed with stage 4-breast cancer out of the blue-or so it seemed.  The backache that she thought was due to working too hard in the garden was actually due to metastases to the spine. Sometimes, the whole body is ill and it is not known.  The disease is undiagnosed.  In the same way, sin is often overlooked in our personal lives, homes, schools, and world. The end result is just as potentially deadly.

Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love (Cf. Ephesians 4:15-16).

When we become mired in sin, we fail to function properly. When we as individual members of the body fail to function properly, we affect not only the immediately surrounding members, but also the body as a whole. So far, I think you would all agree that this seems like common sense. Now, let’s consider the treatment of the disease of sin.

For the most part, it would seem reasonable to assume that when we are treated for a life threatening illness such as cancer, we consider the body as a whole as better. Do we stop and think about why? When all the parts function properly, the whole is well. When we take our illnesses to the physician of life in the sacrament of confession, the same principles apply. We may leave the confessional thinking that what just happened affected only ourselves; but the spiritual reality is far greater.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, \”I have no need of you\”; or again the head to the feet, \”I have no need of you.“ On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ\’s body, and individually members of it. (1 Cor 12:21-27)

That wonderful healing effect extends not only to our living members; but to those who have gone before us as well:

I tell you; in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance (Cf. Luke 15:7).

The effects of sin are all around us. They are also within us. The effects of failing to seek reconciliation with God, one another and ourselves are also evident. Reconciling with an adversary, friend or ourselves is a local treatment, which can improve other relationships germane to the damaged personal relationship eventually leading to the more thorough eradication of the disease of sin in the sacrament of reconciliation. Let us regularly go to the Physician of Life who speaks to us the words every person longs to hear: “…may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins….” Then go, and sin no more.

Filed in: Faith • Tags: , ,

About the Author:

A cradle Catholic and married father of 2 sons. An Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in Detroit, MI whose responsibilities include the formation of resident psychiatrists and junior medical students preparing for a career in medicine.

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  • Susan Anne

    Thanks for such a good reminder, Victor. It always helps to see beyond the narrow view of how my actions affect me, and remember that I’m responsible for affecting all my brothers and sisters in Christ. When I’m feeling discouraged at times, it helps me to know that bearing my cross with grace will benefit my whole Catholic family :)

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