The Social and
Historical Dimension of Sin
- The Old Testament
stressed that the breaking of the covenant with God was a community
failure. Because one person was not loving, the whole community in its relationship
to one another and to God suffered.
- Mainstream Judaism,
during the time of Christ, did not believe in an afterlife. The people
believed, consequently, that God rewarded good and punished evil in the here-and-now.
The Jews saw illness as a direct result of sin, a punishment from God for
a specific sin.
- As a natural
consequence of this belief, people who were born with a defect were a source
of shame to their parents. To have such a child was to live in disgrace in
a community. Jesus rejected this view of suffering when his disciples asked
whose sin had caused blindness to the man who was born blind (Jn 9:1-3).
Jesus' response - that there was no sin, that the man's blindness would reveal
God's work in him – was a complete repudiation of the Jewish theology of illness.
- Jesus said that
our judgment in the afterlife would be based on how we responded to all members
of the community, especially the least fortunate.
- St Paul expresses
a similar notion in his famous Body of Christ imagery. In the spirit of Jesus
and his Father we are one; through the blood of Christ we are related to one
another. Because we are children of God, there must be social concern for