The tension between our sin and God's love has existed since the fall of our first parents. It is this tension that continues to confuse and disrupt our relationship with God and with one another. We do not like to live with tensions, and so we look for paths to overcome them. One of the ways of overcoming the tension between our sin and God's love that I have experienced in my own life has been that of neglecting one and overemphasizing the other. Dealing with tensions by removing one of their causes is common in our society, but it does not solve anything. Instead of working through that tension we end up ignoring it and moving forward with a selective vision. Why is it that we are so afraid of tensions in our lives? Perhaps it is because we see them as useless, not adding anything to our human goal of happiness. Working through things, struggling with difficult situations, overcoming a tragedy; all of these realities are not desirable and we would much rather bypass them than have to work through them. If we have a choice between being comfortable or being in turmoil and tension we would most likely choose comfort. I find it interesting that in his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola does not begin by making us comfortable, but by placing right in front of our faces this tension that exists in our relationship with God, the tension between God's love and our sinfulness.
It is tempting for us to imagine a life of holiness as one completely void of any tensions. Perhaps this is why we often dream of a Church that would be empty of any kind of discomfort, challenge and debate. Our thoughts lead us to a simplistic approach towards tensions: “If everyone could just agree with me, if everyone thought just like I do, if everything was nice and comfortable then holiness in my own life, in my Church, in my society would reign”. St. Ignatius suggests that our dream of comfort is not a realistic path to holiness. He invites us to see our goal of holiness coming about as a result of existing in the midst of those tensions that are present in our lives, in our Church, in our society. Replacing our need to resolve tensions with an acceptance to exist in our tensions is a much healthier and more realistic path to a union with God rooted in honesty and humility.
Fr. Wojtek Kuzma