The Effects of a Guilty Conscience

Friday, February 3, 2017

Readings for Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr, or Saint Ansgar, Bishop – Optional Memorial

But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Mark 6:16

Jesus’ fame had become widespread among the people and many were talking about Him. Some thought He was John the Baptist raised from the dead, others thought He was Elijah the prophet, others simply thought He was a new prophet. They were all trying to figure out who this incredible man was who spoke with such wisdom and authority.

It’s interesting to note that Herod, who had beheaded John the Baptist, immediately concluded that Jesus must be John raised from the dead. He speaks this conviction not so much as only a hunch, but as if he knew it to be a fact. This is his definitive conclusion about Jesus. Why does Herod arrive at this mistaken conviction?

Of course we do not know for certain why Herod arrived at this conviction, but we can speculate and arrive at a likely conclusion. It appears that Herod felt very guilty about beheading John the Baptist and this guilt led him to this conclusion.

It’s interesting to note that when someone sins, as Herod did, and feels deep guilt without repenting of that sin, there arises various unhealthy effects such as a certain paranoid thinking process. Herod is most likely paranoid, and he most likely is so as a result of his sin and his refusal to repent of his sin.

We can see this same tendency within all of us. The refusal to repent of our sins often causes many other problems in our lives. Unrepented sin can cause paranoid thinking, anger, self-justification and many other emotional and psychological issues. Sin, though spiritual in nature, has an effect upon our whole person which is what we have a glimpse of in the person of Herod. This is a good lesson for all of us.

Reflect, today, upon any similar tendencies you have in your life. Do you find yourself getting paranoid about what others say or do? Do you enter into a self-justification of your actions? Do you get angry and project that anger on others who do not deserve it? Reflect upon any of these tendencies you see and then look deeper at the source of them. If you see that the root cause of these unhealthy tendencies is some unrepented sin in your own life, then repent of it honestly and completely so that our Lord can free you of the effects of sin.

Lord, I do repent of all sin. I pray that I may see my sin honestly and sincerely. And as I see my sin, help me to confess it to You so that I may be free not only of the burden of my sin, but also of the effects of that burden. Jesus, I trust in You.

 


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