Does Jesus free us from sin and death?

Q: Throughout the year — but especially during the Christmas season — we hear from many sources (homilies, meditation guides, etc.) that Christ came "to free us from sin and death."

Generally, that notion is just presented without any explanation of its meaning. This is confusing — since in reality we do sin, and we do die. Could you help me understand? (Metuchen, New Jersey)

A: Perhaps the best answer to your question is found in the New American Bible, in a footnote to the early verses of Chapter 8 of Paul's Letter to the Romans. There we read:

"Through the redemptive work of Christ, Christians have been liberated from the terrible forces of sin and death . . . . At the cross God broke the power of sin and pronounced sentence on it . . . . The same Spirit who enlivens Christians for holiness will also resurrect their bodies at the last day."

So you are right: We do sin, and we do die; but Jesus, by his own suffering and death, offers us the path to ultimate happiness. If we are sorry for our sins and seek forgiveness from the Lord, we are assured of joy and life that are eternal.

Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.