On God’s Radar
by Fr. Godfrey Bushmaker, O.Praem.
“We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.”
This complaint from people our Lord says He doesn’t know suggests that, in fact, they considered themselves somewhat close to our Lord—at least at one time. Yet our Lord tells them twice that He doesn’t know where they’re from. Now, as we all know, God has a full knowledge of everything He has made, and He revealed to us that it is all “good.” The only thing He doesn’t make, and therefore doesn’t recognize, is sin. Therefore, the only explanation we have for their not being recognized is that they’ve disfigured themselves by mortal sin.
Those who sin seriously drops off of God’s radar (in a manner of speaking) because their sin completely changes their relationship with Him. One who is in the state of grace is a part of God’s family through receiving God’s divine life. But that family resemblance is lost the moment that God’s divine life is expelled by sin.
That doesn’t happen with small sins. Committing venial sins is like covering an overhead light bulb with tissue paper. The tissue paper dims the brightness of the light, but because the paper is thin the light still makes contact with us. That light radiating from the bulb represents God’s grace and love flowing to us, which forms our relationship.
Committing a mortal sin would be like simply smashing the bulb with a hammer. It only requires one blow to shatter the bulb and plunge us into darkness. While in the state of sin, entering heaven is as impossible as a broken bulb shining light on us. Whatever our moral state is at the moment of our death will be our moral state forever—since death removes our ability to do anything that could aid or injure our soul. So if we perish in our sins, we’ll continue on in darkness and remain unknown to God forever.
A mortal sin differs from a venial sin in three ways—and all three have to be present for it to be mortal. The sin has to be a serious matter, the person has to know it’s gravity at the time and he must choose to do it freely. These three elements together form the hammer that strikes the light bulb. In spite of all the warmth and light it brought to its surroundings in the past, once shattered, the bulb is good for nothing. The same is true of the fallen soul. Mortal sin disinherits us from God’s family and takes away our right to heaven. This loss is the reason for the wailing and grinding of teeth by those formerly known by our Lord, but obscured and hidden by the shadow of sin.
Before we can be seen once again by God, the brokenness of our relationship has to be repaired, and the only way this can be done is by our asking God to repair it. We don’t have the ability to do it ourselves, but God will always renew our relationship if we honestly desire it—and we show this desire by making a good confession. With a good confession, He promises to reinstate us into His family and allow His light to shine on us once again.
Let us pray that we would never act like those complainers in our Lord’s parable who assumed that they could just substitute some work of their own choosing for the true sorrow necessary for forgiveness. May we never become so proud that we cannot make use of God’s greatest gift of mercy to us—the sacrament of confession.
Check out these writings from the Norbertine Fathers.
To be a leper in ancient Israel was a fate worse than death. The disease itself, quite likely contracted from Israel’s extended sojourn in Egypt where the malady was widespread, caused unmistakable sores.
Check back frequently for new writings, videos, and audio.
Enjoy critically acclaimed documentary series, video lectures, and more from the Norbertine Fathers, on-demand in the Abbot’s Circle video library.
Immerse yourself in a collection of chants, reflections, audio lectures, and more from the Norbertine Fathers, on-demand in the Abbot’s Circle audio library.
Enjoy a vast collection of thought-provoking written reflections from the Norbertine Fathers in the Abbot's Circle written library.
"A priest is not a priest for himself. He is a priest for you."
– St. John Vianney
Learn more about the impact of what you are making possible when you support the Norbertines of St. Michael's Abbey.