The one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.

Synopsis: The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller written by Alex Michaelides. It is a story of a woman who shoots her husband five times and then never talks again. A criminal psychotherapist is determined to get her to speak, especially about why she murdered her husband.  

Discussion (warning of possible spoilers):  I enjoyed this book when I read it a few years ago. I wanted to blog about it at the time, but it is not a young adult novel, nor had any of my children read it. However, recently my 14-year-old, who loves mysteries, was given this book for her birthday, and she read it. Therefore, I can finally write about it here.

The ending of this book was quite intriguing because we discover that the wife, with full intent, chose to murder her husband. However, even given her free will, she was set up by someone to be in the position where she was angry enough with her husband to murder him. 

When I finished this book, I contemplated the actions of the two characters – one who orchestrated the scenario while the other murdered.  

Are they equal in this crime/sin?  

My conclusion would be the one who pulled the trigger would be the most at fault. She wasn’t forced to shoot him; she willingly chose this sin. However, if I look more into Jesus’ teaching, I think my conclusion is wrong, and those who cause others to sin are, in fact, more at fault. 

I started looking into any bible story/verse about causing others to sin. I found the millstone analogy in Matthew 18:6-7, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:1-2. Luke’s version is:

Lk 17:1-2 He said to his disciples, ‘Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.

I also found Jesus discussing this matter in Matthew’s Parable of the Weeds Chapter 13. Jesus seems to put those who cause others to sin in their own category,

Mt 13:41 The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will collect out of His kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.  

It is clear from these examples that causing others to sin will have grave consequences, but are they more at fault?  

Jesus answers my question in the Gospel of John:

Jn 19: 10-11 So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

As we enter into Holy Week, we Catholics spend a lot of time reflecting on Jesus’ Passion. The Gospel of John Chapter 19 is a great place to start.

Are we causing anyone to sin?

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