While We Were Still Sinners

June 18, 2023; Rom 5:6-11; 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Saint Paul has a powerful argument in today’s second reading, and we should not miss it. Paul is writing to the Romans, and he wants them to feel secure in God’s love. So he reminds them that Jesus died for them while they were still sinners. Jesus did not die for them when they were good or holy. Jesus saved them because they needed a savior. As soon as Paul makes this point, he begins to build on it. He says, “If, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, so how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life?”

What Paul is saying is if Christ died for us while we were sinners, now that we are saved, now that we belong to him, how much more confidence should we have that sin cannot separate us from God’s love. Now this is a very important truth because many of us may continue to believe that God loves us because we are good. Now don’t get me wrong, I think God is very pleased when we are good, when we are patient and generous, when we give ourselves for the sake of others. But that does not mean that if we fail to be good, if we are selfish, greedy, or proud, that God no longer loves us. Because Christ died when we were sinners, then loving us as sinners is nothing new for God. That is the way God loved us from the beginning.

We should try to make Paul’s truth a part of our relationship with Jesus. All of us have flaws. All of us have shortcomings. We should strive to admit our shortcomings but never to allow our sins to undermine our relationship with the Lord. This should influence the way we pray. If we come to Jesus and say, “Lord, I am so embarrassed by the jealousy that I feel toward a member of my family or a friend. I actually take pleasure when their efforts are frustrated, when their plans fail.” Jesus would say to us, “Yes, that jealousy is a problem, and I can see so many ways in which it blocks you from the happiness you deserve. But remember I knew that jealousy would be a part of your life before I created you and your jealousy now is not going to stop me from loving you.”

If we come to the Lord and say, “Lord, I have this terrible habit of sin that keeps pulling me down. I keep trying to fight it. I confess it regularly in the Sacrament of Penance, but it always seems to get the upper hand.” Jesus might say to us, “That habit of sin is so unworthy of you. Your life is so much better than that habit indicates. But I knew that you would have to deal with that habit of sin when I died for you on the cross for you, and whether you are able to conquer it or not, I will stand by you till the end.”

We might come to the Lord and say, “Lord, I am such a judgmental person. I am controlled by prejudices against other people, people of a different race, of a different sexual orientation. I am not even sure why. I have this anger that spills out into demeaning statements and actions toward others.” Jesus would say to you, “Oh how I wish that you could see all people the way I see them, that you could recognize that every person is my child. But even though you cannot, you are a child of mine. You will always belong to me.”

Because Christ died for us while we were still sinners, there is always reason for hope. No sin can push God away. No sin can stop God’s love.

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