Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Ingratitude, the Root of All Sin

Ingratitude, the Root of All Sin

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O’Sullivan

The Lord said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,] “Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan, which I am giving the children of Israel…  They told Moses:  “We went into the land to which you sent us.  It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit.  However, the people who are living in the land are fierce, and the towns are fortified and very strong”…  So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel about the land they had scouted…  At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries, and even in the night the people wailed.  (Numbers 13:1-2a, 27-28a, 32a, 14:1)

They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea.  (Psalm 106:21-22)


O Lord, may I never forget your loving kindness.  May my heart always be filled with gratitude and love for you.


Almost there!  The Israelites are so close to the Promised Land, they send scouts to look over the territory.  And what happens?  They return with reports that the land to which God has led them does, in fact, flow with milk and honey.  But they’ve become frightened by the size of the towns and the power of its inhabitants, so some of them exaggerate the situation and tell their fellow Israelites that they would be like grasshoppers going up against giants.  Entering the land would spell certain disaster.  So near and yet so far, as the saying goes.  The people break down in despair, and sounds of weeping and wailing fill the night.

It’s a story that, with a tweaking of the details, is played out in every one of our lives.  God loves us into being, names us, and calls us to follow his leading.  Along the way, when we stumble and fall, God mercifully picks us up, dusts us off and sets us back on our feet again.  But sometimes, when the path grows difficult, we give in to our fears.  We refuse to go another step.  We tell ourselves that God has abandoned us.

Actually, it’s the other way around.  We turn our backs on the One who loves us for all eternity.  Like the people of Israel, we easily forget all the good things God has done for us and given us.  We don’t remember all the times God has picked us up and carried us.  We are, in a word, ungrateful.

I have been reading God Finds Us, a book by Jim Manney of Loyola Press on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  In a chapter on sin, he writes that St. Ignatius saw ingratitude as the root of all sin.  When we forget the immeasurable love God pours upon us and fail to love God in return, we create the opportunity for all types of sin to be part of our lives.


Spend some time in prayer today reflecting on the ways in which you have experienced God’s great love for you.  How have you responded to God’s gifts?  Where you have lacked gratitude, ask for God’s forgiveness.  God is merciful and compassionate when we turn to him with remorse in our hearts.

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