I Do Not See Sin

“There is only one sorrow – not to be a saint.” –Léon Bloy

We tend to judge people by their mistakes, by the worst moments in their lives, moments of weakness or failure. Instead of judging others, Jesus invites us to see the goodness in people. All of humanity is holy because God became human in Jesus, thereby sanctifying each and every human being, no matter their faults. We called to search for the goodness in every one.

If we are attentive, the infinite horizon of God’s love stirs within us a willingness to try to move beyond the normal, safe and limited way in which we encounter the other. Within everyone there is a seed of holiness, and each of us, knowingly or unknowingly, is on a journey toward a fuller realization of their inherent holiness through a deeper communion with all beings; therefore, kindness to all is essential. Humanity reflects the endless diversity of the Spirit, all united in Christ. Thomas Merton saw this clearly one afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1958 Thomas Merton went to Louisville, Kentucky for a doctor’s appointment. Before returning to the monastery he bought a Life Magazine book of photographs titled The Family of Man. It cost him all of fifty cents, but through his mystical eyes he saw in the book a priceless truth. The Family of Man had photographs of ordinary folk at weddings and funerals, in bars and churches, children at play and elders at rest. Merton had very powerful reaction to this book:

“All those fabulous pictures. How scandalized some would be if I said that the whole book is to me a picture of God’s face and yet that is the Truth. There, there is God in my own Kind, my own Kind – “Kind” which means “likeness” and which means “love” and which means “child.” Human kind. Like one another, the dear “Kind” of sinners united and embraced in only one heart, in only one Kindness, which is the Heart and Kindness of God. I do not look for sin in you, Humankind. I do not see sin in you anymore today (though we are all sinners). There is something too real to allow sin any longer to seem important, to seem to exist, for it has been swallowed up, sin has been destroyed, and there is only the great secret between us that we are all one kind. God is seen and reveals God’s self as human, that is, in us and there is no other hope of finding wisdom than in God-humanhood: our own humanity transformed in God!” [The Search for Solitude, 182-183 inclusive language added.]

“Always look for what is good in you. Concentrate all your attention on this good part of yourself, show it in full light of the day, and transform depression in the joy of being.” -Rabbi Nachman of Breslov


1 Response to “I Do Not See Sin”

  1. 1 aliceny April 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    What a lovely thoughtful posting, Mr. Straub.

    Looking for the goodness in others is an attitude, a presumption that cannot be achieved easily. Ideally, among true Christians (followers of Christ), it should be instinctual. Most times though, I think that it cannot be done without having the eyes of Jesus. And for that gift, we need a torrent of God’s Grace — for that, and for all our sinful ways..

    If we were to be honest with ourselves and realize how ingrained our habit of judging our fellow humans is I think we would be shocked. We do it every day — in small, petty ways and in sinfully damaging ways that sometimes leave permanent scars. Perhaps it has something to do with the madness and disorder of the world around us. Perhaps we carry so much angst and bitterness within us…

    Merton’s thoughts always fill me with awe. To have a mind like that…. To see things as he saw them….

    I’m sharing two quotes from my resource files with you:

    – “By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” (Deitrich Bonhoeffer)

    – “We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours in the only path.”
    (Paulo Coelho)

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