When I was growing up, there was a game show on television called Let’s Make a Deal. The host, Monty Hall, would give members of the studio audience the opportunity to swap one prize for a different, unknown prize inside a box or behind a curtain. Sometimes the recipient got a better deal by making the trade. Sometimes not.
Of course, if you could see beforehand what was in the box or behind the curtain, you would know whether or not making the trade was a good idea.
I was reminded of this when considering something St. Faustina said in her Diary. She describes being led by an angel into Hell itself. The images she paints of the torments there are staggering. (Diary, 741)
I was more shocked, though, by what she said at the end of it all.
She said she would rather undergo incredible agonies and the greatest sufferings until the end of the world than offend God by the least sin.
So let me get this straight. You have two doors, and you have to choose one of them. Behind Door A is incredible pain and suffering until the Second Coming. Behind Door B is stealing a cookie.
And she’s saying she would choose Door A. Because, apparently, that’s the better deal.
What’s difficult to accept is that she’s right.
We all have a tendency to downplay sin, especially venial sin. Well, yeah, I told a lie, but it’s not like it was a big lie. Not like lying on the witness stand or something. It was just fudging a bit on my taxes. It was just claiming the light was green instead of red when I entered the intersection. No big deal, right? Sheesh, it’s not like I’m Hitler or something!
When we start comparing ourselves to Hitler instead of the Person we should be comparing ourselves to (namely, Jesus), we’ve lost sight of just how diabolical sin is. God is infinitely greater than the universe, and I, little mote of dust that I am, sinned against That? Against Utter Perfection? Against Grace?
That’s exactly what I’ve done. And that’s exactly what Jesus went to the Cross for.
See how much my sins cost? How can sins paid for by such a great price be considered “little”?
That’s why, despite what I’ve heard out of the mouths of a couple of priests, there’s no such thing as a “little sin.” Yes, some are incredibly bigger than others, so big, in fact, that they destroy God’s grace in our souls. But none of them are small.
And that’s also why God wiping them out is such an incredible act of mercy.