The Deadly Predicament
image above is perhaps not simply the most graphic, but probably the
most apposite depiction of the predicament of sin.
It is chilling.
Examine it carefully:
the smooth involuted teeth, tapered to infinitely fine and absolutely
unyielding points. Bending in along polished surfaces, the teeth allow
their unwary prey to enter without effort.
But once in, escape — if at all possible — is unimaginably painful:
rending flesh, piercing, scoring, tearing, the teeth leave none unscathed
who are caught within. They scar, maim, and deform for life. Even if
escape is quick it is only at great cost and immense suffering. Yes,
that image of a Python’s skull is the most appropriate image for
the danger of sin … that crouches at the door and voraciously awaits
We cannot toy with this demon, imagining ourselves more clever
and capable of eluding it. It is far stronger than we are.
Like all serpents, its
jaws can only be held shut — for clamped down upon, it does not have
the strength to open — but once open, it seizes upon us with a ferocity
and force that betrays the innocuous flicker of the slender forked tongue
that intrigues us as it encroaches upon us. We cannot allow it to. We
must not allow it to!
Our greatest safety lies in distance — and vigilance. Not simply the
sin itself, but as Holy Mother Church teaches, from “The near occasion
Perhaps that is why Satan
is depicted as a Serpent in the Garden of Eden:
Sin is first and foremost
a liar. Given that Satan is
“the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning”
it is not surprising that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were first
seduced into sin by the lies of the serpent, by the alluring
deception that they could be like God.
Sin is always alluring, attractive. Were it not — and could we
clearly see the destructive, fatal, even eternal consequences of sin
— we would panic, and instantly flee it! It is deadly.
Time and again we are warned that
“the wages of sin is death”
2 But let us be candid: the reality is that we like to
toy with sin — to “sin … just a little”.
However, since its consequence
is death, the obvious question is inescapable: can we be “dead … just
Likewise, you are either alive to God (in a state of grace) — or you
There is no middle ground.
Moral of the story? Next time you are mesmerized by something as remotely
sinuous and intriguing as a snake — it probably is a snake. And
if it appears to be a sin, and your conscience screams at you that it
is a sin — then it UNQUESTIONABLY IS a sin. If
you think that you can contend with the devil himself — giving him
just your little finger, believing that he will not rip off your
entire arm — and your immortal soul — then you are a fool.
1 Saint John 8.44
2 Romans 6.23
Boston Catholic Journal
Printable PDF Version
Comments? Write us: