MOVING BEYOND SIN-AVOIDING SPIRITUALITY
Sin Avoiding Spirituality is a Christian syndrome that claims an absolute relationship with God but it’s limitations and effects could be very deceptive.
Hence, we chose this theme because both the limitations and effects are scattered in the entire readings of today, especially the first.
This special Christian syndrome are practiced by those who are not sinners and they do everything possible to avoid sin. Indeed, I praise them for that.
However, their limitations expose their weaknesses.
It is a limitation of being contented with the fact that they avoid sin, it is a limitation of being satisfied in doing nothing good as far as they commit no sin.
It is a limitation that sacrifices love on the altar of spiritual mediocrity. And what could be the effects? Those who have been infected by this Christian syndrome find it difficult to relate with those who are regarded as sinners, they find it difficult to understand why sinners should gain favour from God, they find it difficult to comprehend why God has not destroyed sinners in this world. In summary, they avoid sin in order to escape God’s wrath.
SIN-AVOIDING SPIRITUALITY becomes a syndrome that could lead to death because when the above questions are not attended to in their favour, frustration will come, faith will flicker and spiritual dryness will take over.
Let’s see how the readings of today would help us towards a practical understanding.
In the first reading, we could observe some elements of this syndrome in the life of Jonah, who like every Jew, avoid sin in order to escape the wrath of God. Therefore, he would consider non-Jews, precisely the people of Nineveh as those who have stepped themselves in moral filth that they literally stank in such a way that the only option open to God for them was a total destruction. And so, when God sent him to rescue them, he imagined how dangerous it could be to try to rescue those who are perched at the edge of an abyss. For him, he may end up joining in their destruction.
After the whole drama of being caught in his escape ship and thrown into the sea only to find himself in the belly of a fish that delivered him to the place he did not want to go. God proved to him that the people of Nineveh had another option beyond destruction. It was an option of redemption caused by their urgent conversion.
This second option which became a reality made us to observe another effect of this syndrome in Jonah, who became very indignant, fell into a rage and even wished himself dead (Jonah 4:1-3) because God pardoned these sinners in Nineveh, whom he wanted to see as banished into the remotest part of the underworld.
This syndrome of SIN-AVOIDING SPIRITUALITY could be found in our lives in different ways. In those moments we discriminate and believe that there should be a limit to God’s benevolence, especially to wicked people in our society, taking extreme joy and pleasure in their misfortune, and blaming God when they gain favor. In those moments, we find it difficult to understand the pitiable condition of those who are living immoral lives, and refuse to thank God for the grace of living a righteous life. In those moments in which we have refused God’s message to prudently pray and preach for the conversion of sinners rather than their destruction.
Imagine the very first statement in today’s gospel Passage. “Repent and believe in the good news”. Our blessed Lord did not end at repentance, which generally means to stop sinning. Hence we talk about those who avoid sin but are very terrible to relate with, because they lack love and compassion. So Jesus added that we believe the good news. This is the good News that Jonah and his contemporaries were not privileged to hear. It is Good news that makes us believe that God’s kingdom is for all and not for us alone. It is the Good news of considering every person as children of God.
The gospel therefore encourages us to move beyond SIN-AVOIDING SPIRITUALITY to GOD CENTERED SPIRITUALITY; that is a Spirituality that avoid sin because we love God and not because we fear hell, a Spirituality to let go and let God, to detach in order to attach, to leave in order to cleave to God. And above all, to learn to love and never to wrath against sinners.
God bless you!!!