Rev. Robert E. Barron explains that “God does not need you.” God doesn’t benefit from our existence. God has loved us into existence. All God wants from us is to live our lives fully alive, allowing His love to flow through us and out into the world. It seems to be a simple message as simple as “Love your neighbor like you would yourself.” But oh, how we do fail, miserably and often. In what ways do we fail? We fail to live fully because we have bound ourselves in the chains of the seven deadly sins. However, there is hope if we can break the chains and live the lively virtues instead then we will live fully like God wants us to live. In order to try to live this good life we must first understand the sins that hold us bound; the seven deadly sins which are all rooted in fear.
The first sin is pride which theologically means turning yourself into God and assuming the purgatives of God. Lucifer clearly did this. He decided he would not serve God but only himself. It is easy to allow ourselves to fall into the chains and traps of pride because our culture encourages the egocentric life. We define life and freedom by our own terms and not by the Words of God. Destroying these chains is not an easy task. The antidote as Rev. Robert E. Barron describes is humility. Humility is of this earth, reality. Humility is not airing a false sense of inability but it is recognizing the gifts that God has given you and using those gifts for the good of God.
The second sin is Envy. Thomas Aquinas describes envy as sorrow at another person’s good. Because fear is the root of all sins it is easy to see the fear in this sin. We see others rewarded, acknowledged and successful and we feel they have taken it away from us. We are less because of their good fortune. We cannot have that so we begin to undermine those people. However, because we are all connected to one another through God’s creation, hurting one another hurts us as well. The antidote is admiration. God is the source of all we possess; all has been given to us as a gift from God. Admire those gifts from God in others. “It is you Oh, Lord who has accomplished all we have done” – Isaiah. We need to stop comparing ourselves and instead give praise to others we envy and concentrate on how we can use God’s gifts in our own lives; so that we might live more fully.
The third sin Anger. Thomas Aquinas defines anger as an irrational and unreasonable desire for vengeance. It is almost a visceral response when we are hurt we want to hurt back. This sin not only moves us away from God but away from others. It creates a pattern that if it is not broken can chain us forever in misery. The antidote is forgiveness. Jesus Christ came to this earth to teach us forgiveness. It is one of the greatest lessons in the Bible. Rev. Robert E. Barron teaches us that forgiveness is not just of the mind or will but it is an active engagement to undermine evil, to break the pattern. He encourages us not to run away from the anger but to meet it head on and let ourselves be soaked in it taking away its energy thus depleting its impact. This is a lesson that can take a lifetime to learn but if it is learned and lived it can set us free forever.
The fourth sin is sloth; Thomas Aquinas defines it as “sorrow in regard to spiritual good.” Basically it is indifference in your faith life. The antidote is zeal. When, like so many biblical figures did, one finds their mission in life they live it out with zeal.
The fifth sin is avarice defined as the unreasonable desire for riches by Thomas Aquinas. It is beyond having what we need and a bit more it is accumulating, filling yourself with possessions because of fear. Generosity is the antidote.
The sixth sin is gluttony and that can reach beyond the unreasonable pleasure derived from food and drink it can be addictions of any kind. Addictions take control of our thoughts, mind and body. If we are obsessed we cannot see God anymore. We are not able to love Him with our body, mind and soul because they are wrapped up and warped within an addiction. The antidote is asceticism, being able to discipline our desires.
The last and least is the sin of lust, treating another human being not as an end but as a means to satisfaction of my sexual desires and objectifying the other person. The antidote is chastity – profound respect for the otherness of the person and a refusal to turn the other into a means.
We are not able to reach God when these sins have chained us and our bodies, minds and souls are completed distracted, addicted, and self absorbed. In order to find God we must free ourselves from sin. We are to realize that God is about liberation. He alone has loved us into being. We need to relax and find our mission and let the love of God flow though us and out into the world around us.