I replaced the word ‘sin’ in the Bible. Now things have a whole new meaning.

I recently came across the work of Gabor Maté, the Hungarian-Canadian physician, and all of a sudden I started to see things in a whole new light.


Cross-referencing his thoughts with everything I’d ever known, my mind wandered to the Bible, and a concept that had always gnawed at me. ‘Sin’ — and I did a sacrilegious thing. I replaced it with the word ‘trauma.’


Suddenly, things have a whole new and clearer meaning.


‘Jesus died for our sins,’ becomes — Jesus died for our trauma.

‘Go to confession to be cleansed of your sins becomes,’ — Go to confession to be cleansed of your trauma.

‘Everybody sins, it is part of being human,’ becomes — Everybody has trauma, it is part of being human.

‘Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned,’ becomes — Forgive me Lord, for I have unresolved trauma.


Neither Church, Catholic Schooling or a Christian upbringing managed to clarify for me just how Jesus died for our sins. But suddenly, the meaning became clear from a film I’d watched — *The Green Mile*, about a healing man who absorbed pain from others so that they might be free.


We did not know what we were doing.


And so it was that on the cross of his execution, a fine man once said, ‘forgive them father, for they do not know what they are doing.’


We are responsible for our actions, but we are not always aware. As Anthony De Mello once said, ‘no one sins in awareness.’ This means that there is no such thing as an intentional bad deed, or, funnily enough, an intentional good deed. We are vessels either for beauty and creative, or control, power and ego.


So how can we judge others when they do wrong? How can we be angry at them, ruminate over the wrong they did to us, seek revenge or punishment against that.


How can we judge ourselves? Yes, it must be so — that the one who judges others, judges also themselves. And the one who judges themselves, also judges others.


How can there be punishments? Courts of Law? Compensation? Prisons? Penalties? Shaming? Retaliation? Excommunication? Grudges?


We have a choice.


We have a choice – let history be written by the continual collision of our collective trauma. Let it dictate our lives, hinder our workplaces, crowd our prisons, ruin our relationships and stunt the next generation.


And the one after that…

And the one after that…

And the one after that…


Or, we can begin to heal everyone.

Perhaps we must start with ourselves.

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