The dramatic sculpture of the Pietà, which resides inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is safely behind glass now. It was, at one time, more accessible and vulnerable. The beautiful creation was attacked and damaged by a mentally injured fellow. Most of the world’s great paintings are guarded and protected in similar manners. Why?
Sin is a part of the same creation that also brings us such beautiful works as paintings, statues, forests, rivers, and other human beings. We pray early and often during the Exercises about God’s creative and sustaining relationship of love that God has for each and every creature. Very simply stated, sin is the action that flows from the attitude that my selfish, greedy, and irreverent relationship with any of God’s creatures replaces God’s own relationship with them. It all goes back to reverence and seeing God in everything and seeing everything in God.
Through my need for efficiency, I might have used a sterling silver butter knife to pry open a paint can. Sin is not that I broke the knife, but the attitude of disrespect for the limitations of sterling silver that God placed there and gave to us. Sin is also my disregard for the importance to another human being of that piece of silver.
You may check out your behavior against the demands of the Ten Commandments and find that you haven’t violated any of those. Sin is more relational than that. More important than the Ten Commandments are the personal covenants that God has made with us through all of creation. Sin is how we violate, ignore, and freely choose to replace God’s prior relationship with an object or person with my own self-centered blueprint.
Ignatius offers us his picture of God as always working, laboring to attract and support us. God’s mercy is above all other works. Mercy is not only his forgiving of our violations of God’s covenants with us, but even more, God intensely desires us to come more and more alive, alert, aware, and sensitive to his presence in his presents. Forgiving us is God’s judicial side, continuing our personal creation is his compassionate side.
Jesus did not give up on his friends or on those whom he found to be enemies. He was always speaking, working around, to have them all come to their full senses.In praying this week in the frightening area of violent and irreverent sin, stay close to the image of Jesus on the cross. He is there to manifest both the evil of sin and the loving response of God to that evil. We can look at anything while standing next to the cross. The grace we seek this week is a gratitude for the ongoing, redeeming love of God that both cancels the debt against us and works that we might have life and have it to the full.