Facts of Life
(Third Sunday of Easter: Acts 3:13-19; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48)
St. Peter takes a conciliatory approach in addressing those who crucified Jesus: “You acted out of ignorance.” And he offers them the prospect of having their sins wiped away.
St. John writes something similar to his Christian community. He takes for granted that they will commit sin, and assures them that they have an advocate, Jesus, who will not only plead their cause but is himself expiation for their sins.
Neither Peter nor John is remotely suggesting that it is all right to sin. That would be like saying it is all right to drink poison as long as you have the antidote.
Continuing the health analogy, it is a fact of life that people do eat things that are bad for them, or neglect things that are good for them. Diabetics can find it hard to resist sweets; overweight persons may be unwilling to exercise. So, too, a “besetting sin” can have tremendous power over us.
Peter and John were realists. They understood human nature and recognized that sin is a fact of life. They also realized that sin should not lead to despair. Peter knew this from personal experience. He denied Jesus. Afterward he proclaimed him to any who would listen.
Ignorance and doubt are also a fact of life. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ has trouble convincing the disciples that it really is he standing there, and finally he proves it by eating baked fish. At the same time he, too, points to the gift of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
At La Salette, Mary is painfully aware of the reality of sin. Her list of offences is not exhaustive, but enough to indicate the nature of the sins that cause her the deepest concern. Here, too, there is no need to despair. “If they are converted,” is a turning point in her discourse.
In all of the above, the promise is based on the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. That is why Jesus draws attention to his hands and feet, rather than his face, to verify his identity. That is why the Beautiful Lady wears a large crucifix. He who conquered death can surely conquer sin.
Yes, sin is a fact of life. But thanks to Peter and John and Luke, and Our Lady of La Salette, we are reminded of another fact of life, which we call hope.