It’s common to hear people say that they seem to confess the same sins over and over and over again. Why do we do it? In our act of contrition we promise, with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin, but the next time, we are back in the confessional asking forgiveness for repetition. Yes, it happens to all of us, but what the prophet Amos accuses the people of doing is more serious than that. “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel and fix our scales for cheating!
We are weak and, without God’s help, tend to repeat our sins, many times out of habit or without thinking. What Amos describes, though, is a deliberate act of the will to knowingly, and apparently without remorse, cheat others. It is the type of sin we call Mortal.
In his Confessions, St. Augustine recalls stealing pears from a neighbors pear tree as his most serious sin. When we read his description of his former decadent life it is hard to fathom why the theft of pears would be considered his worst, but he is looking at the intent more than the action. It was deliberate. He and his friends new it was wrong. They were not hungry, they merely wanted to destroy something. This action, more than any other in his life, was a deliberate act of the will to do something evil.
Have you ever heard church goers described as hypocrites, attending church on Sunday and acting like we didn’t the rest of the week? Jesus’ admonition to serve only one master is not easy to follow in day to day living, but we continue to try. The key is to keep Him at the forefront of our thoughts. It means praying often and sincerely. It means recognizing those occasions of sin before they trap us into sinning again. It means examining our lives constantly and accepting His Divine Mercy when needed. It means treating every day as Sunday.