Many of you may be familiar with the Seven Deadly Sins: lust, anger, greed, envy, sloth, gluttony, and pride. Of course, I am not implying that your familiarity comes from an experience of one of these categories of human weakness; I am assuming that you’ve just heard about them, in passing, at some point in your life.
In March, the Roman Catholic Church issued a list of seven, more modern “deadly sins”: environmental pollution, genetic manipulation, accumulating excessive wealth, inflicting poverty, drug trafficking and consumption, morally debatable scientific experiments, and violation of the fundamental rights of human nature. This is an extremely inclusive list of flaws and the details of each “sin” will have to be saved for another discussion- one regarding tenets of the Roman Church.
Nevertheless, this new list is interesting because it moves beyond the first list, dating back to the 6th century (but not to the Bible), and points to sins that affect people around you and in the larger world community. A predilection toward gluttony or lust can affect other people, but the original concern was for the relationship between a person and God. Committing sins within the categories of the first seven deadly sins affected one’s own ability to hear the gospel and the character of one’s soul for the receiving of the sacraments.
This new list of seven deadly sins points to the fact that one person’s sin affects everyone. This new list aims at the idea that “inflicting poverty” or “violation of human rights” affects the ability of other people to hear the gospel. Our life as believers forms a trinity (mirroring the connection between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This heaven to earth trinity is formed by God, other people and ourselves. A breach of the connectedness between God and us ruins the communion of that Trinitarian relationship.
Knowing those breaches happen all the time brings us to the understanding that all sin is deadly. If we think of those breaches in relationship between God, one another and ourselves that occur daily- we are forced to acknowledge that we do sin in ways known and unknown. Maybe you aren’t a glutton, but are you grateful for the level of wealth you have compared to many people on the planet? Maybe you haven’t committed adultery (even in your heart), but do you dismiss the need for social justice work in communities?
However, just as one person’s sin affects everyone- so one Person’s death for sin affects us all as well. We believe, through faith, that Christ’s life, death and resurrection freed us from the eternal consequences of sin. Though we still may sin, we know that this sin does not and cannot separate us from the love of God. We are called, through the promises of the Word of God, to cling to what is given to us in baptism- a blessed assurance that we are forgiven and daily renewed to life in Christ.
That daily renewal through the Holy Spirit gives us the power to use our gifts in a world mired in sin. We know that God will lift us and our works out of deadly sin and make all things new. In the coming month, may God grant you the grace and confidence to know that all your sins are forgiven and to carry that message of hope to a world longing to hear it.