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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Can My Personal Sin Affect Others?

After Adam and Eve sinned, genesis tells us that “they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves” (Genesis 3:7). Shame and uneasiness replaced openness and confidence.

When we act contrary to our true selves, we too experience self-alienation and shame. Like Adam and Eve, when we sin, the nakedness of trust is replaced by a cloak of defensiveness. No matter how attractive and pleasurable sin may seem, it has a diminishing effect on our inner selves.

“The man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). The trust and intimacy that previously characterized their relationship with God were replaced with fear and distance. Adam and Eve probably thought that their sin had caused God to be angry with them, and so they hid.

When we sin we think God must be angry with us. We distance ourselves from God, thinking that we are unworthy of God’s love. It is important for us to remember that we do not and cannot earn God’s love. God’s love in unconditional and is in no way dependent on our actions.

"The woman whom you put here with me – she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it” (Genesis 3:12). Adam tried to blame Eve for leading him into disobedience, just as Eve blamed the serpent. As a result, Adam and Eve became alienated from each other. We all know only to well how self-centered behavior alienates us from family, friends, and acquaintances. Sin is a subversive force in the community because it introduces division and problems.

God and the Church tell us that certain behaviors are sinful because they are destructive to human and spiritual growth. Our growth as human and spiritual persons is very much dependent on our ability to give and receive love from God and others.

While most people believe that refusing to love others is sinful, not too many are aware that refusing to accept love from God and others is just as sinful – simply because such a refusal is destructive to our growth as human and spiritual persons.

So often when we are hurt or feel bad about ourselves, we withdraw are refuse to love. This means that other people, especially people close to us, are denied a kind of nourishment. Likewise, when we refuse to accept the love that God and others offer us, we shut ourselves off from wellsprings of life…..

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