Sin Is Not Just Personal or "Psychological," Says John Paul II

Reflects on «Miserere» Psalm During General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2002 ( Sin not only has a social and psychological dimension, but above all constitutes a rupture in one´s relationship with God, says John Paul II.

«Sin is not merely a psychological or social question, but is an event that damages the relation with God, violating his law, rejecting his plan in history, upsetting the scale of values,» the Pope explained during the general audience Wednesday. (ZENIT published a translation of his address that same day.)

This alteration leads to calling «evil good and good evil,» the Pontiff explained to some 10,000 pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall, on a day of torrential rain.

John Paul II was commenting on Psalm 50 [51], the «Miserere,» which he described as «the most loved penitential Psalm, sung and meditated, a hymn raised to the merciful God by the repentant sinner.»

According to tradition, it was sung by King David, after his adultery with Bathsheba, and the crime of the murder of her husband, Uriah. Thus the Pope continued with his series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the Bible that have become the daily prayer of Christians.

This hymn, he emphasized, shows how «beyond an eventual insult to man, sin is above all a betrayal of God.»

At the same time, the Psalm recognizes that «evil nests in man´s deepest being; it is inherent to his historical reality and because of this the request for the intervention of divine grace is decisive.»

John Paul II explained that the «power of God´s love overcomes that of sin, the disruptive river of evil is less forceful than the fruitful water of forgiveness.»

So the «confession of guilt and awareness of one´s own misery do not end in terror or in obsession of judgment but rather in the hope of purification, of deliverance, of the new creation,» he concluded.

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