If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Lesson of Rotting Cabbage



(Revised from an essay I posted in 2012)

 While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call "light": if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.  – St. Augustine

. . . let us also lay aside . . . .the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . (Hebrews 12:1-2).

As soon as I opened the refrigerator door I knew something was wrong.  Rotten, actually. But I was already late for work, so I grabbed my lunch and darted out the front door. My wife was out of town visiting family, so I planned to take care of the rotted whatever-it-was when I returned later that night.

That was my first mistake.

My inbox at work grew inches with each passing hour. I didn’t leave the office until after dark and the thought of starting dinner when I arrived home left me weak-kneed. I decided to grab dinner at a nearby restaurant.

By the time I arrived home, cleaning the refrigerator was the last thing on my mind. I plopped in front of the television and started to unwind from the day. An hour later I headed for the shower and the bed. I’d take care of the fridge in the morning.

Another mistake.

The next morning when I opened the refrigerator door, the pungent stench of rotted cabbage filled every corner of the house. I slammed the door shut and glanced at my watch. I’d be late for work if I didn’t leave soon. I grabbed an apple and rushed out of the house. The fridge would have to wait.

When I returned from work ten hours later, the odor from the fridge had settled over the house. It left me no choice. I tossed the cabbage . . . and the lettuce, tomatoes, and celery laying nearby. Then I scrubbed the fruit and vegetable bin with bleach.

Like slowly rotting cabbage, sin – perhaps especially our so-called venial sins – is never a private matter. If left alone, its stench will seep into and ruin every corner of our life, our families, communities, and our nation. And there is not one person reading this who does not know that to be true. They know it at a visceral level learned from experience – often from repeated experience.

We make a serious mistake to be casual about rooting sin from our lives. We make a serious – deadly – mistake when we tacitly ignore the commandment of God to be holy according to His standards, and not according to the standards of the culture.

Like the law of gravity, the law of sowing and reaping is inescapable: Whatever we sow, we reap. If we sow to the flesh, we reap corruption. If we sow to the spirit, we reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8).

It doesn’t get any simpler. Or clearer.

Or more difficult.

1 comment:

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Sometimes it takes being overwhelmed with the stench of sin to do something about it, right?