Sins Forgiven/Great Love
48Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
These verses end of the story in Luke known as “the sinful woman.” This woman enters Simon the Pharisee’s house and lavishes her hair, ointment and love on Jesus, including his feet. This text was offered as one of the devotions because it highlights the relationship between forgiveness and love.
I have been pondering the relationship between Love and forgiveness since we chose this year’s Lenten theme. Which comes first, love or forgiveness? The answer, it seems, comes right from Jesus’ mouth in the previous verse:
47”Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love.”
Well, that solves that. Once I’m forgiven, then I can love better! None of us can love “well” with a pile of guilt on our backs! But…Jesus doesn’t stop there. Verse 47 continues “…But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
While Lent is a time for reflection, self-examination and honesty about the ways we need forgiveness and help in loving God and others “better,” I invite you to do some soul-searching into the ways you are still unwilling to forgive yourself. Even if you suspect or believe God has already done so. If the woman at Simon’s house received forgiveness from Jesus, but secretly kept beating herself up, she not only rejects God’s love but also is bound up and unable to fully love and forgive others. Holding on to grudges and past sins (our own and others’) says Fr. Richard Rohr, …is like walking around hitting our skulls with a ball-peen hammer. It is impossible to be fully loving and gracious to others if we are unwilling to forgive ourselves.
As we deepen our journey during Lent, take this very day, this very moment and let go all you are holding onto that Jesus has long ago forgiven and forgotten so that you can deepen your love for all of God’s children, starting with yourself.
Almighty God, give me courage, strength and grace to trust that your grace is sufficient for me. Amen.