The deceptive perks of sin

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE story of Moses receiving complaints from his fellow Israelites as he led them out of the bondage of Egypt (cfr. Ex 14,5-18) reminds us of the hardness of our heart to resist conversion and return to God from our state of sin.

Like those complaining Israelites, we prefer to continue enjoying the perks of sin rather than go through the pain involved in our conversion from sin. We can echo the same words of the complaining Israelites: “Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians. For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Ex 14,12)

These perks can only entrap us to greater and irreversible trouble. Yes, they can give us some convenience, comfort, pleasure, etc. But in the end, they will only bring us down to hell, to a complete self-separation from God even if God would still continue to love us.

We should be most aware of this usual condition of ours and do something about it. We have to be wary of the intoxicating and blinding perks of sin which can only be overcome if, letting the grace of God to work on us, we humble ourselves to follow what Christ tells us through the Church now.

Let us instead always remember what the Letter to the Hebrews said in this regard: “As the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.

“That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (3,8-11)

Let us always remember that only with God can we find our true joy, peace and rest. But given our wounded condition here on earth, we have to expect some sacrifices for us to attain that real joy. Let us not be duped by the many dangerous perks of sin. We need to realize that we always need to have a conversion of heart.

That we are all sinners and in need of conversion should come as no surprise to us. We just have to be realistic in handling this lifetime predicament of ours, making use of all the means that, thanks to God, have also been made available in abundance.

There’s confession, for one, and the Holy Eucharist, spiritual direction, regular examinations of conscience, indulgences, etc.

There’s just one interesting thing that, I believe, is worth bringing up at this point in time. And that is that conversion should not just be a matter of a moment, but should rather be a stable state of mind and heart.

St. John Paul II’s encyclical, “Dives in misericordia” (Rich in mercy), has some relevant words about this point. “Authentic knowledge of the God of mercy, the God of tender love,” the saintly Pope said, “is a constant and inexhaustible source of conversion, not only as a momentary interior act but also as a permanent attitude, as a state of mind.”

He continues: “Those who come to know God in this way, who ‘see’ Him in this way, can live only in a state of being continually converted to Him. They live, therefore in ‘status conversions;’ and it is this state of conversion which marks out the most profound element of the pilgrimage of every man and woman on earth in ‘status viatoris.’” (13)

It would be good to go slowly on these words if only to feel at home with this wonderful truth of divine mercy as well as our lifetime need for it. Let’s hope and pray that we can manage to conform our attitudes and core beliefs along these lines expressed by St. John Paul.