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Infinite Sin, Infinite Love, Infinite Mercy

I began to understand the need  for Christ's crucifixion when I learned about the infinite nature of sin. I think Archbishop Fulton Sheen summed it up rather well in the following quote:

“Sin is measured by the one sinned against. Man sinned against God. God is Infinite. Therefore, man’s sin is infinite."

Image Credit: Catholicism Pure and Simple
I believe that it is possible for anyone to be saved, regardless of faith because I believe in God's infinite mercy. Even so, the nature of sin is far more infinite than we can ever imagine. Let's take something like gossip. Gossip doesn't sound like the worst of sins. I once heard a story about a priest who was listening to a woman's confession and asked her, as penance, to take a stack of paper and release it from the top of a building. He told her to come back to him once she had finished this task. She did as she was told and released the stack of paper from the top of the building. The papers flew off in every direction imaginable. Some landed by the base of the building, others were carried off by the wind and disappeared from sight. The woman went back to the priest and he asked her to retrieve all of the pieces of paper that she had thrown down. When she told him that it would be impossible, he told her that it would be more possible for her to retrieve all those papers than it would be to retrieve every harsh word she had uttered against another person's character. 

Reputations can be lost with a few careless words. Secrets cannot be taken back once they have been uncovered. Gossip, likewise, has very many unforeseen consequences. We may think a few bits of gossip is okay among friends, but these few bits of gossip are hard to retrieve after they spread and end up destroying someone's life. 

Based on my own experiences with sin (as perpetrator and victim), I can say with great confidence that there are many butterfly effects when it comes to sin. We don't see every consequence of every action we make, but there are plenty of consequences and these consequences have the potential to damage people, relationships, etc. We may, in our own foolishness, believe that our sins are finite. We may believe that our water-cooler gossip never leaves the office, but it has a way of doing just that. I think all sin has the potential  for unforeseeable consequences. It is very difficult to imagine a sin as finite when you consider the limitless nature of consequences associated with sin and the hurt that these consequences can cause others. 

Now imagine sinning against the infinite....sinning against God. We have, by our nature, been guilty of sinning against God every time we listen to our natural wants and forget about our spiritual needs. It is so easy for us to sin...our physical bodies are pretty much wired for it. We may not think of some sins as a big deal, but every sin is a refusal to God's call for sanctity....and every refusal brings distance between us and a God who loves us far more than we could ever imagine. Imagine yourself refusing the love of your mother, father, your child, your spouse...refusing the person that means the most to you? Well, multiply that by infinity and you get a good picture of what occurs when we refuse God's call to sanctity. 

Fortunately for us, Christ sacrificing himself, as God and man, for the sake of sinners like us. There are also plenty of chances for salvation during our time on earth. Regardless of how much time we spend on earth, God always calls us back to Him and He will provide you with the grace necessary to come back to Him. Sin can damage the love we have for God, but God recognizes and delights in even the most broken and fragile love we have towards Him. As a result, He gives us the graces necessary to get up after we fall.

This is especially evident when Christ assumed the infinite penalty for our sins by sacrificing himself as God and man on the cross. I am sure each and every one of us was on his mind when he took each whipping and each insult. You were on his mind and in his heart when he was nailed to the cross. God, in his infinite love for us, gave us His only Son. Christ gave himself up for us out of love. God, in his infinite mercy, accepted Christ's sacrifice so that the infinite penalty of our sins could be justice could be satisfied. 

I don't think I will ever fully understand just how much love and mercy God is willing to share with us. All I can say is that I am not worthy of the mercy and grace that rains down upon me every time I receive Communion. Even so, I know that God calls me out of love for me and that I am called to share this message of infinite love and mercy. As for everything else, well...for now I just have to trust in Him and accept the fact that He loves me in spite of my imperfections. 

Pax Vobiscum

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