Behind the sins
“What part in the play will you act out this year, Bob?” I overheard a student asking his classmate.
“Not acting this year,” he replied.
“Really, dude? That’s unbelievable,” Karlson was surprised.
“But I signed up for the crew this year,” Bob said.
“After your stupendous role in Twelve Angry Men, I thought you would take on more challenging roles!”
“Nope, not this year.”
“Why did you decide to quit?”
“I’m not quitting, Karl. I just thought I would be a better actor if I also appreciate what happens behind the scenes,” Bob smiled.
* * *
In life’s stage, we are all actors before God and men. The script about our journey to Heaven has already been written down by God. All that we really have to do is to act out our roles, here and now, as best as we can.
As we perform, we must not be too concerned with how we are doing before the other actors, because it is for God, our real Audience, to Whom we are rendering this daily performance of our life.
On occasions that living up to God’s script goes well, we are usually fine. But when a particular role that we aren’t quite keen on turns up, we become restless and anxious. This is so true when we experience trials like death, illness, separation and misunderstandings.
Somehow, most if not all of us, manage to adjust to gracefully act through these difficult life roles. What seems to be more difficult is facing up or assuming the daily confrontations we have with our weaknesses and disordered tendencies in our nature. In short, our experiences of SIN.
It is our common frustration that just when we have been having everything so good, then we fall and we have everything so bad. Our first and normal reaction to this moral handicap in our nature is to immediately heal its effects by going to confession and making up for the consequences of our sins. But through the years, this ‘cyclic role of falling and getting up again’ can become rather taxing and meaningless.
Thus, besides simply acting upon sin, we must also strive to see and understand what goes on behind our sins. Every sin, that is, any thought, word or act against God and our neighbor, has a story about us. Sin doesn’t just happen. We make it happen. And a lot has to do with what goes on behind our faults.
Knowing our sins, by their names, number, species and circumstances, is a concrete step to overcoming them. The sincere acknowledgement of our sins is the starting point of any conversion. But we must take another step: understanding the why’s of our sinful thoughts, words and actions.
Let’s take the example of cheating in a quiz or exam. To this we can even add how one’s guilt often varies depending on the exam’s weight, say, one is guiltier for a long exam and lesser for a quiz.
All of these sound very nice, but children (adults as well) often stop here and expect to be given some ‘spiritual paracetamol’ to calm their consciences. If we leave things at this stage, the circle of conversion may not be completely and fruitfully drawn.
It may be interesting to ask ‘why they cheated.’ They reply ‘because I didn’t study’ and be more precise like, ‘I was so lazy to study.’ We could further ask what caused his or her laziness. Then it can ultimately lead to ‘being attached to Facebook or some engaging video game.’
We have finally reached the main cause for cheating. It is at this point that one can achieve a more realistic and meaningful spiritual progress. Moreover, with this humble knowledge he can be better counseled or advised with more realistic and effective means to handle his predicament.
Examples of more concrete approaches to address our case of cheating could be: Have you tried bringing the topic of detachment and poverty to your prayer? Have you asked Jesus to help you to be more detached? Why don’t you make a schedule and follow it well. Ask yourself if anything bad would happen if you don’t indulge in your ‘likes’ on specific days? Could you instead replace it with serving others through a chore or spending a little more time doing your homework? And many other incisive resolutions.
This is what it means to get behind our sins in order to know ourselves better. One is not locked into labeling vices, but examines what virtues he can grow in to improve. From this perspective, he is able to act out God’s Will better as he learns to get to the bottom of his actions, purifying his intentions and converting his weaknesses into a renewed source of strength and love.
Lights, camera… Action!!!
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