BEING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DOING: A HOMILY ON WEDNESDAY, 5TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
There are two ways we can look at sin. Sin can be seen from the perspective of what we do. But most importantly, it can also be seen from the perspective of who we are. In the first reading, as in many other passages after it, God gives a commandment to man. God’s commandments can come in the form of something good God is asking us to do. For example, the very first commandment of God is when He told man to be fruitful and multiply. But there is another form of commandment about something God is asking us not to do. Like today, He tells man not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is in the midst of the garden. Even among the Ten Commandments, there is a commandment of what to do, for example, to honor our parent and to keep the sabbath day holy. Yet, there are many other commandments which begin from ‘Thou shall not…’.
But there is a very important category of commandments which is more important than what we have been talking about. It is the commandment about what we are not to become. Sometimes we are worried about the sin, but we will be more worried if we realize that one of the terrible consequences of sin is that sin often alters the person that we are. The sin we commit is one thing, but what we become as a result of that sin leads to more sins. That is what Jesus is telling us in the gospel. It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him. Therefore, the sin of Adam and Eve did not begin by them eating the fruit, which many of us believe to be an apple. Sin is more subtle than that.
The Eating of the fruit is the symptom, but the sickness itself is greed, inordinate desire, etc. That is why we speak of the 7 deadly sins, which are greed, envy/jealousy, lust, pride, sloth, wrath and gluttony. These things are like diseases we contact and they grow as we continue to sin. These things are inside our hearts. It is these deadly sins that kill us. So we might be thinking of a person stealing for example. The stealing is the symptom, but the real sickness is greed. Rape is a symptom. The real sickness is lust. Killing a person is the symptom. The real sickness is wrath. We need to beware of these things in us and ask God to heal us of them. These 7 deadly sins are the real killers. They are not the actions we take. They are who we are, and from who we are comes what we do. If we continue to confess what we did, without looking at who we are, we will just be treating the symptom without treating the sickness itself. Of all the deadly sins, the deadliest is pride. By all means, worry about the wrong things you do. But it is more important to worry about who you are. Being is more important than doing.