“Do not think that sickness is grievous; only sin is grievous. Sickness accompanies us only to the grave, but sin follows the sinner even after the grave.” Abba Serapion
We care deeply about physical illnesses and injuries. This concern is highlighted by the recent COVID-19 outbreaks. Even before this, we have been getting vaccines for different flu strains and taken a variety of over the counter medications for even the slightest sniffle or sneeze. Diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis have had foundations dedicated to research and treatment for decades. Finding specialty physicians and hospitals in small and medium sized cities is not very difficult. Treatment for mental illnesses, though still stigmatized, has become more widespread as well. Being anguished over the ailments of body and mind makes sense. But the ailment of our souls, sin, should cause us even greater distress.
Imagine someone who is not concerned about his blood sugar level. He ignores the warning signs such as fatigue, frequent urination, and blurred vision attributing them to aging or heartburn. In time, the diabetic will suffer losses of organ function and limbs. Worsening conditions can be avoided (and sometimes reversed) with medications and lifestyle changes. But, unless the man confronts his condition and strives to change, he will die prematurely.
Yet, the man who is unconcerned about such things as lust, pride, or envy faces an even worse fate than the diabetic. Sins that we don’t repent of are the ones that kill our souls. It is easy to ignore them as they can remain hidden for many years, perhaps even a lifetime. Excusing and overlooking them takes little or no effort as everyone else seems guilty of the same thing and some even worse. However, God knows and sees all of our sins. On the day of Judgement, excuses and ignorance will not be tolerated. Simply “feeling sorry” will not be enough to avoid eternal estrangement from the light and life in His kingdom. A dead diabetic may still have a soul that God accepts. He does not accept unrepentance.
Great Lent is a time for us to examine ourselves and acknowledge these “minor” sins that are so easily hidden. The hospital for souls, the Church, has many medications and procedures that can heal our ailments. Our Good Doctor, Christ, heals us. Practitioners, priest and spiritual fathers and mothers, recommend prayers, scriptures, readings, and suggestions for a spiritually healthy lifestyle. By all means, take care of any sickness you may have. But more so, be repentant of sin for the sake of the soul.