It was reported in BBC News last January that the United States government charged three European men with creating and distributing a computer virus that infected more than a million computers around the world. The Gozi virus is, so far, one of the most financially destructive computer viruses. It infected even the computers operated by the US space agency NASA. It was used to access personal bank account information from computer users and steal millions of dollars from customer accounts globally. In today’s virtual world, a computer virus in one’s system is a disaster.
Computer viruses are small software programs that are designed to spread from one computer to another and to interfere with computer operation. It corrupts or deletes data on your computer; uses your email program to spread itself to other computers, or even erases everything on your hard disk. Thus they cause chaos and threaten to destroy your programs. Once you are infected, it is a real headache! You need anti-virus tools to cure and remove it.
In the natural world, the spread of real viruses have caused fatal consequences including loss of human lives. Viruses are tiny organisms that may lead to mild to severe illnesses in humans and animals. This may include flu or a cold to something more life threatening.
The contagious smallpox epidemic obliterated 70% of the native American population brought to the Americas by the European colonists. The damage significantly aided European attempts to displace and conquer the native population. In 1918, a pandemic or a worldwide epidemic caused by a severe and deadly influenza virus killed more than 100 million people or 5% of the world’s population according to recent estimates. The most recent pandemic is HIV or human immunodeficiency virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This infectious disease has now killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on June 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The deadliest virus of all is sin. Though it resides in the spiritual universe, its destructive consequences are felt in the real world . It harms. It kills. It defiles the soul. It separates man from God. By sin, man deliberately violates God’s law and abuses his freedom. He chooses to do wrong. Such a willful choice to do evil in God’s sight have caused disorder in the different relationships of man. We experience the effects of sin everyday: a Canadian goes on a shooting rampage at the Palace of Justice killing a doctor and a lawyer; a lady in India is gang-raped after she boarded a bus at night; the slain journalists massacred in Maguindanao still await justice after a year; a taxi driver is robbed another is found dead; sex scandals proliferate in cyberspace. Crimes and corruption is the staple news item daily.
Nowadays, there is a tendency to soften our speech which euphemism. Some may consider sin a mere “psychological complex” and guilt is minimized as a “hangover” from religious taboos. People just blame their misfortune from certain “compulsion.” And they say “nobody is really bad,” only determined by their environment or how they were raised. The popular excuse is: “I was born this way!”
Yet no matter how we deny it, if we observe deeply, sin makes us realize of the presence of evil in the world. Human nature has the propensity to lust for the forbidden. This makes sin is a real trap. Like a termite, it undermines the essence of our nature. It destroys our moral fiber and makes us forget who we are. The attraction is so compelling that it makes us loose our moral compass. It seeps in through our desire and induces us to indulge in a losing investment. When it succeeds to blind our reason and heats our passion, we are diverted from our purpose. Then we realize that we have squandered our inheritance and exchanged a diamond for a dime. It sows distrust by injecting in our mind the thought that God is against us and does not want neither our success nor our happiness. This lie makes us loose our ground.
For a Christian, sin is the breaking of a personal relationship. When Jesus has become your friend, it becomes a betrayal; a second crucifixion. When I wounded my brother accidentally when we were kids, I was filled with remorse. When we have hurt someone we love, we are sorry. It is the poor understanding of sin that makes us transgress the law of God. In the words of St. Anselm of Canterbury: “only someone who has seriously meditated on how heavy the cross is can understand how serious sin is.” The only way out from such a fatal attraction is our hope in God’s mercy and conversion of heart. Healing comes from the Divine Physician. Like the prophet Isaiah, we need to rediscover the holiness of God to rekindle our desire for higher things in life.
(This article also appears in Cebu Daily News published on February 10, 2013)