Sermon of St. John Vianney on Sin
Sin is a thought, a word, an action, contrary to the law of God. By sin, my children, we rebel against the good God, we despise His justice, we tread under foot His blessings. From being children of God, we become the executioner and assassin of our soul, the offspring of hell, the horror of heaven, the murderer of Jesus Christ, the capital enemy of the good God.
O my children! if we thought of this, if we reflected on the injury which sin offers to the good God, we should hold it in abhorrence, we should be unable to commit it; but we never think of it, we like to live at our ease, we slumber in sin. If the good God sends us remorse, we quickly stifle it, by thinking that we have done no harm to any body, that God is good, and that He did not place us on the earth to make us suffer.
Indeed, my children, the good God did not place us on the earth to suffer and endure, but to work out our salvation. See; He wills that we should work to-day and to-morrow; and after that, an eternity of joy, of happiness, awaits us in heaven.
See; God forbids us that action, that criminal pleasure, that revenge, that injustice; no matter, we are bent upon satisfying ourselves; we had rather renounce the happiness of heaven, than deprive ourselves of a moment’s pleasure, or give up a sinful habit, or change our life. What are we, then, that we dare thus to resist God? Dust and ashes, which He could annihilate with a single look.
By sin, my children, we despise the good God. We renew His Death and Passion; we do as much evil as all the Jews together did, in fastening Him to the Cross. Therefore, my children, if we were to ask those who work without necessity on Sunday: “What are you doing there” and they were to answer truly, they would say, “We are crucifying the good God.” Ask the idle, the gluttonous, the immodest, what they do every day. If they answer you according to what they are really doing, they will say, “We are crucifying the good God.”
O my children! it is very ungrateful to offend a God who has never done us any harm; but is it not the height of ingratitude to offend a God who has done us nothing but good? It is He who created us, who watches over us. He holds us in His hands, like a handful of hair; if He chose, He could cast us into the nothingness out of which he took us. He has given us His Son, to redeem us from the slavery of the devil; He Himself gave Him up to death, that He might restore us to life; He has adopted us as His children, and ceases not to lavish His graces upon us. Notwithstanding all this, what use do we make of our mind, of our memory, of our health, of those limbs which he gave us to serve Him with? We employ them perhaps in committing crimes.
The good God, my children, has given us eyes to enlighten us, to see heaven, and we use them to look at criminal and dangerous objects; He has given us a tongue to praise Him, and to express our thoughts, and we make it an instrument of iniquity,–we swear, we blaspheme, we speak ill of our neighbor, we slander him; we abuse the supernatural graces, we stifle the salutary remorse, by which God would convert us; we reject the inspirations of our good guardian angel.
We despise good thoughts, we neglect prayer and the Sacraments. What account do we make even of the Word of God? Do we not listen to it with disgust? How miserable we are! How much we are to be pitied! We employ in losing our souls the time that the good God has given us to save them in. We make war upon Him with the means He has given us to serve Him; we turn His own gifts against Him!
Let us cast our eyes, my children, upon Jesus fastened to the Cross, and let us say to ourselves, ” This is what it has cost my Saviour to repair the injury my sins have done to God.” A God coming down to the earth to be the victim of our sins! A God suffering, a God dying, a God enduring every torment, because He has put on the semblance of sin, and has chosen to bear the weight of our iniquities!
Ah! my children, at the sight of that Cross, let us conceive once for all the malice of sin, and the abhorrence in which we should hold it. Let us enter into ourselves, and see what we ought to do to repair our past sins; let us implore the clemency of the good God, and let us all together say to Him, from the bottom of our heart, ” O Lord, who art here crucified for us, have mercy upon us! Thou comest down from heaven to cure souls of sin; cure us, we beseech Thee; cause our souls to be purified by approaching the tribunal of penance; yes, O God! make us look upon sin as the greatest of all evils, and by our zeal in avoiding it, and in repairing those we have had the misfortune to commit, let us one day attain to the happiness of the saints.”