I Am a Sinner First

Pope John Paul II wrote:

“The Christian is actually called by the Church to prayer, penitence and fasting, to interior and exterior shedding of oneself. He stands before God and recognizes what he is. He rediscovers himself.”

In several short sentences, our Holy Father packs a tremendous powerful spiritual punch. He strips us of our pretentions and lays us bare in front of our Holy God asking us to reveal ourselves as we are. In order to accomplish this interior and exterior shedding, we must first take a courageous first step forward and profess in front of our Lord our God that  “yes….we are sinners!”

Why is it so important to declare ourselves sinners first in the presence of the Lord? Our Holy Father is clear and specific in what the Church calls us to and in what order.

First, the Church calls us to prayer.  Prayer is an act of humbleness and humility. We pray to God. We communicate intimately with God.

But in order to pray to God and  communicate intimately with God we must  place all of our cards on the table. You cannot hold any cards close to your chest. If you do, you’re now gambling on chance (from your perspective) and you gamble with our all knowing God! Gambling means we are trying to win, to take something. God gives willingly and openly for the asking. By declaring to God that you are a sinner first, you reveal your hand to God – you surrender your hand to God.. This requires trust, and faith is built on trust. It is only through admitting to God and yourself that you are a sinner first are you able to embark on this intimate journey.

Second, the Church calls us to penitence. This can only be accomplished if you first admit you are a sinner, for why would the Church call you to penitence if you are sinless? Penitence is an act of asking forgiveness for our transgressions.

In order to ask for forgiveness, you must recognize that you have sinned and in the process of sinning you have caused hurt in some way.  If not, why ask for forgiveness? Asking for forgiveness comes with the promise that you will make amends and restitution for your sins. Additionally, by asking for forgiveness, you learn to forgive. Thus, through the acknowledgement of your sinning and subsequent asking of forgiveness (and the Lord our God openly providing it), the Lord sets the example for you to follow for when one sins against you. It is a complete circle – a whole – a completeness – more importantly it is an intimacy you share with God.

Finally, the Church calls us to fast. Fasting is a ritual cleansing, a release of what is unhealthy and introducing to your interior and exterior to that which is healthy both physically and most important spiritually. Fasting allows one to center himself and reflect since when one fasts one avoids that which distracts and allow one to focus on himself through the eyes of  God and thus truth is revealed. It is through truth that one finds the living waters of life.

When Jesus says  “And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye?”  (Math 7.3 D-R), He is simply reflecting His Father’s request of us that we claim that we are sinners first and foremost.. All flows from this simple first step.

By admitting to oneself and to God that one is a sinner first one actually frees himself from the burdens of sin and opens oneself up to the gift of true life.

Copyright © 2013, Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo holds a Master of Arts - Integrated Studies from Athabasca University. His major interests are Culture, Work, Organizations and Leadership, within a context of Catholic Social Teaching Principles. He writes from Canada.

3 responses to “I Am a Sinner First”

  1. Luciano Corbo says:

    http://www.inspirationalmatters.com/devotions/avoiding-sin-or-avoiding-god-your-choice/ >> Thank you for linking my post to your blog! God Bless…


  2. Luciano Corbo says:


    Thank you for referencing my blog post. God Bless


Leave a Reply

next post: How Narrow!

previous post: Highlighting New Evangelizers: Singing Sisters