The Greatest Sin

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The Greatest Sin

In all four Gospels, Jesus is consistently depicted as the messenger of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. This is so much the case that his detractors regularly accuse him of being someone who freely associates with sinners. Jesus rarely offers a stern word of condemnation to those accused of theft, adultery, and other serious sins. But he does not hesitate to display divine wrath while confronting religious hypocrites.

Jesus has little patience for those who present themselves as morally superior, who look down on those struggling to live a good life, who cast judgment and place burdens on others while they themselves act as if they were above any and all reproof. Jesus has news for them, though they might not recognize its inherent goodness at first glance. God sees the truth, sees into the hearts of those who use religion for their own self-righteous ends while exploiting or oppressing others. And God is not happy about it!

Sadly, not much has changed over the last two millennia. Within the Christian community today, leaders and ordinary believers alike often justify their own moral superiority while dismissing or condemning others. Jesus’ message is an invitation to an honest examination of conscience. When we are quick to judge others, to condemn, to feel superior, may we first pause to reflect on where we ourselves need to grow. Otherwise, we might find ourselves on the receiving end of Jesus’ righteous rebuke. Woe to us indeed.

Fr. Daniel Horan

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, is the Dun Scotus Chair of Spirituality at the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago). He is the author of several books, including Reading, Praying, Living Pope Francis’s Rejoice and Be Glad.