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  • Deacon Dan Wright serves the Diocese of Austin, Texas. His work outside the parish is as a special education teacher serving students with significant cognitive disabilities.



  • Family activities, spirituality, liturgy, Christian apologetics, social justice topics, special education issues, and promoting the peace and unity of the human family.
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May 29, 2007



dd, I was reading the Sirach link, and was wondering if you could tell me what you think it means when he says, "to avoid injustice is an atonement". I don't understand what he's getting at. Thanks!

Deacon DW

What you think it means when he says, "to avoid injustice is an atonement".

The word atonement means the same as sacrifice, in the same way that Christ was the atonement for our sins. Keep in mind here the custom or religious practice of sacrificial sin offering.

Compare the Sirach passage to Isaiah 1: 11, 16-17, especially verse 16.

Keeping the commandments, doing good deeds and avoiding injustice are the true sacrifice and worship.

In his use of "avoid" I doubt that he means refraining occasionally or sometimes like when I avoid sweets. Rather, to avoid injustice is to do something to make it different. Often I avoid something by planning ahead and using preventative measures.

Finally, there's another comparison in Isaiah--33:14-15. Here we can apply what Isaiah says and ascertain that avoiding injustice can also mean to have nothing to do with it.

By living a life that seeks justice we live a life of holiness and we become collaborative partners with God in our atonement or salvation: through the works of justice we cover or blot out a multitude of sins.


I've thought that whatever occasion of injustice we opt to not commit in honor of God or Love, even if it's small, even if it seems richly deserved or that we can justify it to the nth degree.. He of the freely given manna and of freely rejected earthly loaves in a hungry desert of tempation, Who was, is, and to the end of the age will be our very Bread of able to take that bit of goodwill and "feed" 5000 with that better choice. (Well, this sort of thinking keeps me from trying to give people directions to Boston.)

But Sirach is saying it can also be a personal atonement. I'd never thought of it that way, but of course, I rarely think that seriously about my own sin. Good heavens, I need to re-read Sirach. I forget how good is God.


Thank you Deacon Dan, and hello gypsy!

I will need to ponder this, and read Sirach and the Isaiah references you mentioned, dd. I must admit, I am a little confused about the "praise as sacrifice" also. I can't recall ever hearing anyone speak of it that way before. I need quiet time. (Like that's gonna happen...) :)

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