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The Christian Mystery

Mercy, Sin, and the Human Community

Biblical Reflection: Jn 4:4-30

The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners (Lk 15). The angel announced to Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). The same is true of the Eucharist, the sacrament of redemption: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28). (CCC 1846)

As St. Paul affirms, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20). (CCC 1848)

Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity… (CCC 1949)

Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. (CCC 1855)

Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it. (CCC 1855)

For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. (CCC 1857)

Where sin has perverted the social climate, it is necessary to call for the conversion of hearts and appeal to the grace of God. Charity urges just reforms. There is no solution to the social question apart from the Gospel. (CCC 1896)

“God created us without us; but he did not will to save us without us” St. Augustine. Sermo 169 11,13. (CCC 1847)

Questions for discussion:

  • What can we learn from the Gospel section about the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:4-30)?
  • When you go to Confession, do you have a real experience of God forgiveness? Explain.
  • What is your attitude toward venial sins? Do you consider they have some effect on your life, do you ignore them, or do you consider them at the same level of mortal sins?
  • St. John Paul II wrote an encyclical entitled “Rich in Mercy”. How do you feel about the fact that God has been merciful to you?
  • How do you think you have contributed to the common good of society? …to your work or profession? …to your community?

Further reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers 1846-1948.