Mortal Sin

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today in the gospel, we see that Our Lord encounters this funeral procession. The people are walking through the streets of the town, carrying this coffin of a dead man. I was thinking about this and reading in a book, of what the saints say about this gospel; the saints always have interesting ideas.
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St. Bede[i] interprets this scene in spiritual terms; he says, ‘the dead man who was carried, is a sign of a person whose soul is dead in mortal sin.’ Now it is true, that in the scriptures, sickness and disease are signs of sin; when Our Lord cures people, it is also a sign of his ability to heal us of our sins; naturally therefore, death is a sign of the worst: mortal sin.
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The word ‘mortal’ refers to death. Humans are called mortal, because we all die. If we suffer a mortal wound, it means he won’t recover from it. So a mortal sin, refers to death in the soul by which we lose grace, and we estrange ourself from God’s love. Mortal sin is worse than physical death. It would be better to get cancer, than to fall into mortal sin. If a person dies in mortal sin, if they do not repent, they go straight to hell. This therefore, is the worst thing that could happen to us.
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Referring to this, St. John Vianney[ii] says, sin is the executioner and assassin of the soul. It snatches us away from heaven to bring us to hell, and yet we love it. He says, the Good God wishes to make us happy, yet we turn from his law and give ourselves to the devil. We turn from our Friend, and go to our murderer, who murders our soul.
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Now there are two ways that mortal sin can wound us: temporarily, or more permanently. We can be wounded temporarily, if, when we commit a mortal sin, we immediately turn back to Christ, ask for mercy, and go to confession at our earliest opportunity. Jesus wants to heal us of our wounds, especially mortal wounds, and this is signified in the gospel today, when Jesus felt pity; he touched the coffin and said: ‘Young man, I tell you, arise!,’ and he came back, alive.
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This is why Our Lord gave us the ‘rescue sacrament,’ confession, so that if we repent and are sorry, he will touch us, and bring our soul alive. And this is exactly how people feel when they have their great sins forgiven in confession, they are really alive again.
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The other way that mortal sin can wound us, is much more dangerous. It is when a person does not repent, but instead, sort of ‘makes peace’ with his sin, and continues to live his life without holy grace. A person in this state is in danger of having a hard-heart, of accepting the state of his sin. This is impenitence.
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I read of a man who had accepted a habit of sin and no longer resisted it; he was told by his friend, ‘change your ways unless you wish to go to hell. He simply replied: ‘Well, I may indeed go to hell for it!’ And he certainly did, because shortly thereafter he fell sick and suddenly died.
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St. Alphonsos[iii] tells of another man who was in an adulterous relationship with a neighbor. One day, her husband caught them, and so forced the man to drink a poisonous liquid. He went home and told his brother, who urged him to confess before he died. ‘No, he said, I do not wish confession, but tell the lady that I love her.’ This, is blindness!! It is the madness, in which a person prefers his sin to heaven.
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If we commit a grave sin, we must get out of danger as quickly as possible so that we don’t ‘make peace’ with our sin – become hard-hearted. If we skip Mass, we should not delay in confessing lest it become a habit and we become lost. Even in the time of St. Paul, he warned of this danger. In Hebrews, he says, don’t be like some people who neglect to come to our Assembly, as is the habit of some. [For them,] there is no longer a sacrifice for their sins, but only judgment and the fury of fire.[iv]
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So too, it is one thing for example, to fall into impurity, but confess and try again to be pure – it is quite another, for a person to make peace with his sin, and move in with a fellow fornicator. At some point, a person may not be able to leave their sin at all.
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A vulture, rather than abandon the carcass on which it feeds, would rather be shot by the hunter than give up the dead remains. We must not become vultures, attached to a sinful way of life.
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St. John Vianney says, for those who are on an evil path, whether in lies, blasphemy, impurity, theft, or whatever – he says, ask them – ask the drunkard, ‘What have you been doing? You have been crucifying Our Lord again.
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But the Good News is, the Lord does not give up on anyone; as in the gospel, he wishes to raise a person back from the dead, if they are willing, if they repent. The saints also tell us, that in this gospel, the widow who weeps for her dead son, represents the Church. The Church being a widow on account of the death of Christ – she weeps over her children who are dead in sin, with the hope that Christ can bring them back to life.
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And the widow is also Mary. Mary prays for her children who are in trouble. And how many stories are there, of Mary saving people by her intercession? In Valencia, a priest met a dying sinner in a hospital who had not gone to confession for 55 years. He had however, prayed a little each day to Mary, asking that she would help him at his death. He told the priest, I was attacked, and at the moment I would be killed, I prayed, ‘Mother of sinners, help me.’ The attack ceased, and there in the hospital he made a good confession and died in peace. Mary, pray for us to be faithful to Jesus, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Nicholas]

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[i] Cataena, p. 240

[ii] The Little Catechism, p. 51

[iii] Dignity and Duties of the Priest, p. 116

[iv] Hebrews 10:25

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