1 April, 2020

Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.”

~ John 8:34-35 ~

Daniel 3:14-20,24-25,28; Daniel 3:29-34; John 8:31-42

What is sin? Often my secular friends will challenge me about sin, as if the word itself were deeply problematic. Even Christians often shy away from it. It is a hard and uncompromising word.


I like to think of sin as “what gets in the way” of my relationship with God, with myself, with others and with all of God’s creation. What does get in the way of all of these relationships? For each of us our areas of sinfulness will be different. Some people may find themselves trapped by fear, others by envy. The desire for meaning may become misdirected into a need for more and more things, or the desire for love be warped into an obsession with sex.


In my own life some of the worst “things” that have gotten in the way of my good relationship with God and others has been rooted in my own poor self-esteem. When I allow my negative self- image to dominate my life it has all sorts of consequences for others and me. I normally cover up feeling inadequate with a  shell of “I know what I’m doing”, which keeps me from being myself with God in prayer as much as it pushes others away. I don’t want to let anyone see my vulnerability and so I close in on myself.


Pope Francis, in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’, has highlighted the sinfulness inherent in our relationship with creation. When we see the world around us as something to be used up and squandered, then we are not in right relationship with creation, which speaks to us of our Creator and Lord.


Finally, there is the aspect of choice. As I have grown I have become more aware of sin in my life. With every new psychological or intellectual insight I have the choice to act or to just know the insight. Jesus challenges us to live freely and in so far as we are able to use our insight and understanding to help us to choose to be better, ultimately trusting that he has freed us for eternal life.




I pray for the grace to recognise my own sinfulness more clearly and for the desire to turn from all that is sinful in my life so as to live in the freedom you promise.




Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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