(Trinity Sunday: Exodus 34:4-6 & 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18)
The theme of today’s readings is unmistakable: God’s mercy and compassion, his immense love for the world. The same God who reveals himself as Father, Son and Spirit, reveals himself as “slow to anger and rich in kindness,” a phrase that recurs several times in the Scriptures.
God is “slow to anger.” This does not mean that he is indifferent to sin. In fact, the verse omitted from the first reading describes God also as “not declaring the guilty guiltless.” Moses acknowledges that his is a “stiff-necked people.” Paul reminds the Corinthians to mend their ways. Even John’s Gospel acknowledges the possibility of condemnation, just two verses after proclaiming that “God so loved the world.”
If God didn’t care about sin, Our Lady would have had no reason to appear at La Salette. She came because our sins matter.
There is a difference between sins and crimes. While most crimes would probably also be sins, not every sin is a crime. Failure to respect the name of Jesus, or observe Lenten abstinence, or keep the Sabbath rest, or attend Sunday Mass—none of these is a criminal act, and yet Mary complained about them in tears.
Crimes are defined by society and punished by society, because they matter to the well-being and good order of society.
In Psalm 51 David prays, “Against you, you alone have I sinned.” What about Uriah, whom he caused to be killed? What about Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, whom he seduced? Did he not sin against them? There is no doubt that he committed crimes against them, because these things mattered to the society in which he lived.
Yes, these crimes were also sins, because they mattered to God, even more than to society.
Sin is not only a question of breaking a commandment. It is a violation of the relationship we are called to have with God, a relationship that matters deeply.
In many ways, the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette demonstrates that what matters to us (famine, death of children) matters to God.
That should prompt us to wonder whether what matters to God really matters to us as well.