STILL BEING SINNERS
“…But God shows his love for us in that, while we (were/are) still being sinners (ἔτι ἀμαρτωλῶν ὄντων ἡμῶν / еще грешником сущим нам) Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while being enemies (ἐχθροὶ ὄντες / врази бывше) we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Rom 5: 8-10)
Do we cease to be “sinners” after we are “reconciled to God” in Holy Baptism? No. But we do cease to be His self-professed “enemies,” that is, purposefully battling against God’s purpose(s) with all we’ve got. That’s why, in the traditional prayers of the Church, we are constantly calling ourselves “sinners,” but not “enemies.” We are swayed off the path of God’s purpose for us, time and again, and “miss the mark” or “sin,” but then we come back, through repentance, to “His life,” which He continuously offers to us in His Body and Blood, “for the life of the world.”
Why am I making this point? Because a distorted picture of the “before” and “after” of Holy Baptism (and other Mysteries) can be quite damaging for my daily approach to being, living, and growing in Christ. I might lose faith in the power of the Church’s “mysteries” or “sacraments,” if I have some kind of a-historical vision of them. God did not and does not “redeem” us in one moment, with the wave of a magic wand, but does so within Salvation History – our own, personal one, and the one of all humanity. In the historical reality of our own cross-carrying journeys, in our own historical context, we are always “works-in-progress.” And we live our beautiful, life-bringing Tradition not only in its unchanging “mystery,” but also in its change-wrought “history,” which includes our own “sin,” which is constantly being redeemed and healed in the ongoing work of the Church. So let me not be discouraged today, by those moments in which I most-recently “missed the mark,” but let me “be saved,” or “made whole again,” by coming before my Lord in heartfelt repentance and prayer. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.