SINNING IS STEALING: A HOMILY ON MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK
A man once told his son that each time you commit a sin, no mater what sin it is, it is stealing. He explained that if you worship other gods, you have taken the glory that belongs to God and given it to other things. If you fail to keep the sabbath holy, you have stolen time which belongs to God. If you fail to honour your parent, you have deprived them of what is due to them. If you kill, you have stolen the life of someone. If you tell a lie, you have deprived people of the truth. If you commit adultery, you have enjoyed something which does not belong to you by right, by having sex with someone who is not your legitimate spouse. If you covert your neighbour’s goods or spouse, you are desiring something that is not your own. The same goes for all sins. So we can say that every time a sin is committed, someone has stolen something from another person.
In our first reading we see the great servant, who comes to bring forth Justice. Let us not imagine a justice which is separated from the mercy of God. Justice as we understand it is to give to each person what is our due. The death of Jesus brings about both the justice of God and the mercy of God. It brings about the justice of God because sin must be punished and Jesus took the punishment due to our sins. He also brings about justice in the sense that the forgiveness He won for us has been promised by God. He brings about mercy, because this forgiveness is totally undeserved by us. Bringing about justice is very important because it is not possible for God to be unjust, even when His actions seem unjust. Justice is the right ordering of everything and Jesus comes to order everything aright.
In our Gospel we are told of the so-called mercy of Judas on the poor, about which the bible says ‘he said this because he was a thief’. Yes, all sin is stealing. Sometimes we give to the poor as an act of mercy, but that mercy is also justice. If we refuse to give to the poor, we would not only have failed to be merciful to them. It would also be an act of injustice, because God has given us more so that we can share and a refusal to share becomes stealing. Mary in the Gospel shows us the opposite of stealing, which is generosity. She was so generous that she poured out a very expensive oil on Jesus. We fail to be generous when we think that what we should give is too costly to part ways with. But to keep them will mean stealing. Yes, all sin is stealing. If all sin is stealing, then the more generous we are the further we are from most sins. This is one of the reasons why it is said that charity covers a multitude of sins. This charity is also justice.
Are we going to be like Judas who is only pretending to be generous or are we going to be with Mary who is actually generous to the point of giving away that which she considers precious? The antidote to stealing is generousity. If all sin is stealing, then all righteousness is generousity.