By John Murphy

St. Thomas Aquinas argued that the will of man always chooses the good and that in sinning the will of man is seeking the good that is in the sin. Man’s mind has focused on the good and ignored the evil in sin. This is a little hard to take when we consider murder, genocide and other major and horrible sins. We have to stretch to see how much a person must shrink in his mind the enormity of the evil being done and how much the person must magnify the good. However, for the more garden variety of sins, we can see St. Thomas’ point of view. The ones we commit are a mix of good and evil - pleasure and hurt, good for us and not good for another.

That is why our Mother, the Church, teaches us to form a good conscience. Pope John Paul II has written and spoken against a relativism that is popular today in regard to morals. For the anthropologists, the philosophers and the psychologists, when they look at the human race, they see that there are different moral values and ways of doing things. When you look at man and nature, you might easily come to the conclusion that morality is relative. One culture thinks that having multiple wives is fine. Another that killing babies is even a sacred duty. For even another eating cow meat is a sin. But the Church teaches, along with other Christian religions and other religions, that there is one eternal morality--God’s. Anything else is man’s misunderstanding brought on by Original Sin.

When we were saved from Original Sin by being Baptized in His Name, we were freed from this relative morality and given God’s morality. "He who obeys the commandments he has from me is the man who loves me; and he who loves me, will be loved by my Father" (John 14:21). "This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you" (John 15: 12). There is no brief formula that would serve to demonstrate how to practice this love for God, but it may be put as: giving one’s self to God, avoiding sin, praying and meditating, practicing self-denial and conforming to the will of God. However, all this does not happen like magic - sin does not disappear from our lives and love appear - presto, chango. We are painfully aware that moving sin out of our lives is more like moving a mountain of mud from a sliding hill. We need a lot of work and faith that it will eventually get done. It is a continuous work of perfection of self.

Love of God is the greatest of the virtues, both in practice and accomplishment. It is called the "essence of perfection." As we grow in love of God and love of one another, we learn to choose God’s good and see evil. Love acts as a clearing of the eyes of the will. God’s love for us makes us more aware of our own worth in God’s eyes. God’s love for us reveals to us how much he wants the best for us and we begin to see what that best is. God’s love for us opens us up to respond back in love of God. It is natural for us to love those who love us. In God’s love of us we see the love that God has for everyone else. We then love others more and more. We try to imitate God in love. Having received the Life of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to imitate God in love because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit abide in us. But we grow as the plants, the animals and our bodies do - slowly, day by day. We grow spiritually and personally because that is the way God made us and wants us to be. It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in each of us, who is the source of love: "And this hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom.5:5).

Love drives out sin by growing in us seeing more and more clearly what is really good and what is not. Love drives out sin by growing in us the power to choose that good that we see for ourselves and for those around us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we grow in love of God, of one another and ourselves. May you continue in that growth.

John Murphy is a member of the Charismatic Renewal Board from St. Gregory’s Parish, San Mateo and a Electronics Instructor at OICW, Menlo Park. Read other articles in the July 1998 edition of The San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue.