This morning Father Larry said something in his gospel that caught my attention. He mentioned that being a true Christian is probably the hardest life to live. I immediately thought, “No way! Being forced to wear a burka or not being able to drive without my husband’s permission would be way harder than being a Christian!” I also thought about all the polytheistic religions in the world that worship more than one god such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and how difficult it would be for me to believe in more than one god.
But then, as he always does, Father Larry made it all very clear. He went on to explain that the rules of a Christian life often go against today’s way of life. He then suggested we look at the Seven Deadly Sins if we didn’t believe him. Yep, he had me at oh no.
Let’s refresh our memories of those seven sins: lust, greed, gluttony, envy, anger, pride, and sloth. So, if we are to live a true Christian life and follow Christ’s lead, or just be a good person in general really, we are to avoid all of those? Yes, Father Larry, that is quite a challenge. If you don’t agree, you are either living in denial or simply don’t believe.
Most of the seven are fairly self-explanatory, but what about gluttony and sloth? At first thought gluttony conjures up images of large tables of food and people eating to excess. Sloth? I think of that lazy zoo animal. Both, ironically, are somewhat accurate depictions of the sins. Gluttony is basically over-consuming beyond what you really need, food or otherwise, and sloth is not using your talents for good and just being flat out lazy. Yikes. I can be such a sloth!
But moving on, who doesn’t let their anger out, show their self-pride, and get a little too comfy sitting on that couch? Well, probably all of us. Most likely we’ve all also been envious, greedy, and either drank or shopped excessively, right?
And for all my Protestant friends who are pulling out their bibles as they read this, no, there isn’t a comprehensive list of the Seven Deadly Sins in the bible, but if you check out both Proverbs 6:16-19 and Galatians 5:19-21 the list of “sins to guard against” and that “I forewarn you about” are eerily similar.
What is in the bible is the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.
So there you have it. Written out. Plain and simple. Clear and concise. Or maybe not.
Father Larry joked about how many of us would probably prefer the unwavering rules in the Old Testament over the more eloquent writings of the New Testament in which Jesus often talks in parables. In the Old Testament we of course have only The 10 Commandments:
Pretty cut and dry, right? Catholics, Protestants, and Judaism all follow these rules handed down to Moses from God and when the great prophet addressed the Israelites before they entered the land of Canaan, he urged them to keep all the commands and to “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.”
Talking the talk and walking the walk they command can sometimes be challenging and avoiding those seven sins is indeed a hard burden. But, a rewarding one in the end. So what can we do? Maybe turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:14 where it says to “scatter joy!” I love this!
“Comfort those who are scared and help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
Always be joyful and always be praying. Scatter joy. This is God’s will.” Thes. 5:14
Now we’re talking, right? We can all do that!
Maybe it helps to not be so negative about it all and instead think back to the simple WWJD? He would help someone hurting. He would give to someone in need. He would show humility rather than pride. And most of all, He would love.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta
When someone pulls in front of you in traffic, rather than get angry, consider that the woman driving might be a single mom who is rushing home from a 10-hour shift to feed her kids.
That rude waiter just might be a college student working to pay for his classes and is feeling a little overwhelmed.
That homeless person at the intersection is a human being and a person who is hungry and ashamed to be asking strangers for help.
And that elderly person at the grocery store blocking my way down the aisle might be lonely and dealing with multiple health issues. I’m talking to you Carla!
Remember, life’s challenges are designed not to break us, but to bend us toward God.
Another way to go is to pray for the Seven Virtues that overcome the Seven Deadly Sins, which are:
Chastity overcomes lust
Charity overcomes greed
Temperance overcomes gluttony
Love overcomes envy
Patience overcomes anger
Humility overcomes pride
Diligence overcomes sloth
Every day we should pray to be pure, giving, grateful, loving, patient, humble, and enthusiastic. But we will fail. No matter how hard we pray or how hard we try. We are human and we will fail. I fail every day.
But we should never give up. Keep fighting the good fight and focus more on what God thinks of you and less on what others do.
Sadly, today’s world tells us that the more Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat followers we have the more important and better we are. Not only is this just silly, it’s greedy, gluttonous, and a whole lot of prideful. No, we can’t fully fill God’s shoes, but we can follow His footsteps and be followers of Jesus.
There is so much hate in the world right now, and you need look no further than your own Facebook page or internet site. Every day I scroll past posts that insult and offend me and are so full of anger and resentment, but I try not to let them sway me or hurt me. Maybe Saint Teresa of Calcutta said it best when she said, “peace begins with a smile.” Maybe today the best way you can be like Jesus is to just smile.
Waaaay less me and waaaaay more Jesus, right? Yes. God wants to make us like Jesus. Think about it though, does this mean He wants us LIKE Jesus or does He want us to BE like Jesus? I’m guessing both.
I’ll end today with more wisdom from Blessed Saint Teresa of Calcutta, whose following prayer is not only the subject of a wonderful book titled “Anyway,” but should be the goal of all of ours, Christians and non-Christians alike.