When the Scriptures start talking about slaves and slavery, we all get a little bit nervous. Slavery is a dark moment in our memories and in our country’s history. Americans like to think in terms of independence and freedom rather than of slavery. Some would even say that our freedoms are the most important part of being American.
When St. Paul uses the term, however, he is really talking about something entirely different. I would suggest that we might substitute the words addict and addiction in this passage to truly understand what St. Paul is asking of us. Sin can and often does become a matter of habit. Most of us find ourselves confessing the same sins over and over again. Trying to break the bad habits that are sinful is a lifelong task. The tools that spiritual writers offer us to break bad habits come in the form of examinations of conscience, both general and particular.
Because we believe that Jesus has broken the bonds of death and defeated sin through his resurrection, we are tasked with the lifelong work of turning away from sin and placing our faith in the Gospel. If we think that we can accomplish this task or work with our own strength, we may be defeated before we even start. The only person who is strong enough to defeat sin is Jesus. Only when we accept his strength will we have what we need to overcome sin. This means that we must first admit that we are powerless over sin and that we must depend upon God’s grace, God’s strength, to overcome sin in our lives. Making that admission is, therefore, the first step in mastering sin in our lives.
God offers us the strength and grace we need every time we receive the body and blood of Jesus in communion. This actual and sanctifying grace is what we need to live a life free of sin. How blessed we are to have such ready access to this fount of grace.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator