One of the principal reasons why we commit sin is because we do not really understand the love that God has for each and every one of us. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen defines love in these simple but profound words: Sin is hurting the one you love. This is a very personal definition. That is to say that sin is hurting and damaging your relationship with God, and maybe even rupturing it to the point of severing the relationship. The primary question that each of us should ask ourselves in the depths of our hearts is this: do you really believe that God loves you personally, permanently, unreservedly, and infinitely? This brief essay is aimed at helping us to really be convinced of God’s infinite love for us. Consequently, it will be much easier when confronted with temptations to sin to reject them. And the reason is because I do not want to hurt God who loves me. In other words, serious sin is not simply breaking a commandment, but breaking the Heart of God!
How then do we know that God really loves us with an infinite love? The following are a few reasons.
1. ORIGINAL SIN AND THE INCARNATION. A very consoling truth in the Catholic faith is that God allows evil so that He can bring greater good out of evil. Saint Paul asserts: “Where sin abounds, the grace of God abounds all the more.” (Rom 5:20) If you like, God can turn a tremendous tragedy into a glorious victory! One of the clearest and most penetrating manifestations of this truth is the reality of Original Sin and consequently the Incarnation. God gave Adam and Eve freedom which they abused by committing Original Sin. However, God intervened by sending His only-begotten Son, Jesus, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary to save us. As we sing in the Easter Vigil Mass in the Exultet: O happy fault, O happy fault that brought us so great a Savior. Therefore, the Incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God made man, was done for you and me. How great God’s love is for us in that He sent Jesus to save us from the devil, slavery to sin, and eternal damnation.
2. THE LIFE OF JESUS AS MODEL FOR ALL OF US. Another sign of God’s infinite love for us is the Person, Pattern and Model of perfection that Jesus is for all of us. As to living out the truth, we are not like blind men, or men living in caves, or a man running around like a chicken with his head cut off—far be the case from that! How we are to act, what we are to say, who we are called to become—all of these questions can be responded to in one word and that WORD is the Word of God, the Logos—JESUS THE LORD! Our whole existence should be a constant study of the Person, life, words, and actions of Jesus. For us Jesus is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.
3. THE PASSION, SUFFERING, AND DEATH OF JESUS! In the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in the 3rd Week of the month retreat, the topic for meditation or contemplation is the Passion, suffering, and death of Jesus. The retreatant is invited to enter into the very life of Jesus, to enter into the very Heart of Jesus, and to beg for the grace to suffer with Jesus—not an easy grace to beg for! Moreover, Saint Ignatius emphasizes this extraordinary truth: Jesus suffered all of His Passion for love of you! Indeed, if you were the only person in the whole created universe then Jesus would have gone through all the most excruciating pains and tortures for love of you. His sweating blood, scourging, crowning with thorns, carrying of the cross and falling under its heavy weight, His crucifixion, prolonged agony on the cross those three hours, shedding every drop of His Precious Blood, His breathing forth His spirit into the hands of the Heavenly Father, and even the piercing of His Sacred Heart after He was already dead—all this and much more, all His intense and indescribable suffering, He went through because of His infinite love for you and your eternal salvation. Stop to meditate upon this profound truth and tell the Lord Jesus how thankful you are. Beg Jesus for the grace right now to truly love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength!
4. THE CHURCH AND THE SACRAMENTS. Jesus promised that He would not leave us orphans, but that He would send us the Consoler, the Paraclete, that is to say, the HOLY SPIRIT. Still more, Jesus left us until the end of time His constant and perpetual PRESENCE in the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. However, of supreme importance is the institution and reality of the greatest of all the Sacraments and that is the most Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much and continues to love us until the end of time and forever in heaven. On earth, this love is present to all who believe in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which the sublime fruit is the Eucharist which reaches its climax in the reception of Holy Communion. We must remind ourselves over and over again of the sublime and ineffable truth that Holy Communion is Jesus loving us! Holy Communion is really and substantially Jesus in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Indeed, Jesus loves us so much that He wants to come and love in us, abide in us, be part of us. Jesus wants His Body to be part of our body. Jesus wants His Precious Blood to circulate and flow through our veins and enter into our very heart. Jesus wants His mind to be our mind; as Saint Paul says: “Put on the mind of Christ… you have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor 2:16) Jesus wants His very soul to enter into our soul, to sanctify and strengthen our soul. All of this truly becomes a reality every time we receive Holy Communion worthily, with faith, devotion, love, and a burning heart. How much Jesus really loves us in all times and in all places! Understanding the immense and personal love of Jesus through His Mystical Body the Church, and especially through the most sublime Sacrament of the Eucharist, motivates us to renounce sin when it is knocking at the door of our heart. We do not want to hurt a God who loves us so much!
5. JESUS’ PRECIOUS GIFT TO US FROM THE CROSS! The love that Jesus has for you continues and will continue always and even into eternity! As He hung on the cross in painful agony and abandonment, Jesus gave to the whole world, but to you individually the great gift of His Mother to be your mother. The words of Jesus were addressed to you and to me: “Woman behold thy son, son behold thy Mother; from that moment the beloved disciple took Mary into his home.” (Jn 19: 26-27) Jesus loves you so much that from all eternity He willed to leave for your peace, joy, consolation, and love, the gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the person of Saint John, in giving Mary to him, Jesus was also giving Mary to be your tender, loving, meek and humble, and compassionate Mother. You can turn to Mary as your Mother in all times, places, circumstances, and contradictions of life. Mary is always present and willing to listen to you, console you, comfort you, and love you with the heart of the most loving of mothers.
Therefore, when temptation to sin knocks at the door of our hearts we should call to mind the Incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God made man; His life on earth; His Passion and death that He suffered for you and for me; the Church, especially the Eucharist, that He left us and by means of which He remains with us until the end of time; and lastly the gift of Mary as our loving Mother. Keenly convinced of these truths, we can more easily say NO to sin and YES to love and a deep friendship with Jesus, the faithful Friend who will never fail us!