Ordinary 17th Sunday – DEAD IN TRESPASSES

Ordinary 17th Sunday

Gen. 18: 20-32                                      Col. 2: 12-14                            Lk. 11: 1-13



Since the evil that we commit damages and destroys our life, we are called to deal with it judiciously.


The Reality of Evil:

It was God’s birthday! All, including devils (after all they are only fallen angels!), had been invited. Satans looked very sad. God enquired the reason for it. One of them responded, “We have been rendered to be jobless. Whatever we used to do, now human beings do on their own. We used to be the agents of divisions. Now human beings fight among themselves and get divided. We are supposed to sow the seeds of poisonous thinking. Now they, on their own, are full of negativity. Why don’t you think of giving us some new work?”

All of us commit some sins or the other. It may be done out of ignorance, or weakness or even wilful malignancy. Though all of us are sinful, still many of us do not accept the fact that we commit sins. We will rather justify ourselves than accept humbly that we are all sinners. D. L. Moody was a famous preacher. Once he went to a place for preaching. The pastor of that place told him, “Here people have the bad habit of leaving the preaching half way through. However good the preaching is, they don’t seem to change their habit.” When Moody stood up to preach, he started his sermon in this way: “Today I am going to preach to two kinds of people: sinners and saints. First, I will preach to sinners.” Then he proceeded with his sermon. Half way through the sermon, he said, “Now my preaching for the sinners is over. The sinners can leave.” Well! nobody went out.

Evil and its Outcome:

Whether we accept it or not, it is the reality that we commit sins and that causes considerable damage to our lives. It is said that sin is like water hyacinth. When one or two hyacinths are put in a pond, they grow, spread out and gradually make the whole pond useless. When we give a place for sin in our lives, slowly it begins to corrupt our whole life. The readings today point out that the outcome of sin is death – physical, psychological and spiritual. In the first reading, we read that  the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah brought self-destruction. Though Abraham tried to save these cities by appealing to the mercy of God, the cities could not be saved since there were not even ten good person in them.

If the first reading speaks of the physical death as the result of sinful life, the second reading speaks of spiritual death, a much worse one. St. Paul writes to Colossians, “you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” Here St. Paul does not speak of physical death, but spiritual death. This understanding of St. Paul is nothing but the reflection of Jesus’ own teaching. It has to be remembered that, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, when the younger son returned from a life of sin, the father said, “this son of mine was dead and is alive again.”

Evil: Ways Out:

Our God is not only the God of love, but also the God of justice. It is on these two pillars – namely God’s love and justice – the whole world has been built upon. Justice of God demands that a person is punished for one’s sins. However love of God involves forgiveness and freedom from consequences of sins. St. Paul writes, “And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.”

The implication of the above passage is that whenever we commit sin, we unconsciously write a record that contains the punishments for the sins we commit. The Hindus call it as karmic effect, which determines the future, including the upcoming births.  St. Paul writes that God, by making His son die on the cross, destroys this record. In other words, Jesus, by destroying himself on the cross, destroys the destruction that we fetch on ourselves.

The gospel today goes one step ahead and points out two methods by which we can protect ourselves  from the onslaught of evil. Firstly, we need to pray to God that we may not be put into temptation. Secondly, when a person judiciously and perseveringly prays, one is granted the gift of the Holy Spirit (“how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”), and when there is Holy Spirit in our lives, there is no much scope for the evil in us. “What fellowship is there between light and darkness?” (2Cor. 6: 14)

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