I was meditating on Genesis 3 today, and the affects of sin. I have also been on an Ignatian retreat for the past two weeks, and recently learned that St. Ignatius said, “Ingratitude is the most abominable of sins…For it is a forgetting of the graces, blessings, and benefits received. As such, it is the cause, beginning and origin of all sins and misfortunes.”
Adam and Eve had everything they needed, but apparently not everything they wanted. They weren’t satisfied with what God gave them; they thought God was holding out. Like selfish children, their discontentment caused them to forget all about the incalculable blessings God gave them, and focus solely on the one thing they couldn’t have. The thought, “It’s not fair!” crept into their hearts, and the serpent took full advantage of this inkling of ingratitude, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This history that we now get to live makes sin rampant in our world. Why should I be grateful for my family, my home, my job (the list goes on and on) when someone else has bigger and better? Today’s society breeds ingratitude – just look down a cereal aisle. Thousands of choices, when any one of them would suffice, a child gravitates toward the colorful, cartoon-covered package at eye-level, laden with sugar, another substance that causes cravings for more (but I won’t get on my soapbox about that right now).
Why do we want what is bad for us? Why can’t we be grateful for what we have? Why aren’t we strong enough to hold up against society’s ever-beckoning call to discontentment? St. Paul reminds us:
“My own behavior baffles me. For I find myself not doing what I really want to do, but doing what I really loathe…I often find that I have the will to do good, but not the power. That is, I don’t accomplish the good I set out to do, and the evil I don’t really want to I find I am always doing…What a wretched man I am!” ~ Romans 7:15-24
My only answer is that this is part of God’s plan. Without sin, we won’t have that longing to be made whole again by God. As St. Augustine put it,
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Without sin, we wouldn’t choose virtue, nor would we need to be saved. This is why the Easter Vigil Exsaltet text includes,
“O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault, that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”
The winter of discontent turns into a spring of gratitude when we can admit the ingratitude brewing in our hearts, run to the Sacrament of Confession, to the loving arms of a forgiving Christ, and repeat, repeat, repeat.