This is a guest post by Greg Herrle for Week Three of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure.
I’ll just plain admit that the idea of spending a week reflecting on my sins isn’t the most exciting thing to contemplate. Of course, there is the obvious need to reflect on our sins of past and present in order to become better people and better Christians. Yet, no matter how much I rationalize the need to reflect on my sins and confess them, it still conjures up the image of going to my first confession as a little kid and feeling extremely awkward and guilty.
As I now get to spend this week thinking through this process, I find I am able to step beyond that initial discomfort. During this time, I try to focus on sin in two new ways. First, I find myself really trying to see sin from Jesus’ perspective, and second, I try to find a new way to translate that into everyday life.
In viewing my sins from Jesus’ perspective, I found myself often focusing on one of the graces for the week. The grace asks for a deepening sorrow for my sins. In many aspects of life, I think we need to ask for the grace to be more like Jesus, and this one is no different. I imagine Jesus’ view of our sins is the same: deep sorrow. I don’t believe it is like the parent who says as punishment, “I’m not mad; I’m just disappointed.” Rather, I think Jesus feels true sadness about our sin as he knows how much happier we would be without it. So when we sin and Jesus feels sorrow, how does he respond?
This past weekend, my wife and I helped out with our parish’s Confirmation retreat for high school juniors. The featured speaker was Marquette University’s Associate Director at the Center for Peacemaking. He talked extensively about work he has done in the Middle East, as well as the nonviolence movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At one point during his talk, he discussed how we are called to respond with love instead of violence. This is exactly how I see Jesus responding to our sins. He does not cast us out or point out our additional flaws. Instead, the Lord loves our imperfect selves and wants us to know him better. By responding this way, he enables us to realize our need for change. I pray I can take this lesson from this week’s reflection on sin and translate it to my own life, responding with love.