Sin of omission

Friends in Christ, today in the Epistle of St. James we read: ‘for those who know the right thing to do, and do not do it – it is a sin.’
Here, the Holy Scriptures refer to what we call ‘sins of omission.’ In the Confiteor at Mass, we say: I confess to Almighty God, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do. ‘What I failed to do’ – these are the sins of omission.
If a person feels that they are living a good life and can’t think of any sins they might have, this is the place to look: sins of omission. These are sins we commit, not by doing some sinful action, but by failing to act. All things being equal, a sin of omission is usually less serious than a sin of action. So when the cashier wrongly gives you a $5 discount, and you keep quiet, this is a sin. It is not as bad as intentionally stealing $5, but it is a sin.
Parents commit serious sins of omission in not bringing their child to mass, or by not teaching them their religion. Lies can be told by what is NOT said. Aging parents can be neglected by what one fails to do, and we can sin by being silent when the True Faith must be defended or explained.
Sometimes we feel prompted to do or say something, and we hesitate, we are afraid, and this leads to a restless conscience. If we pay attention to our conscience, we will start to notice the guilt from things we should have done. Our conscience will be peaceful however, if we always act so as to have no regrets over what we failed to do.
There’s actually a poem called, THE SIN OF OMISSION (by Margaret Sangster)


It isn’t the thing you do dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.    
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.
The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother’s way;
The bit of heartfelt counsel
You were too hurried to say;
life is all to short, dear,
And sorrow all too great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That waits ‘till it’s too late.

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