LEAVING OUR OLD WAYS
God began by forgiving us, and He invites us all to forgive each other
"Your sins are forgiven" (Lk 7:48). We are in Ordinary Time and the Gospel readings return to Luke with a story of amazing forgiveness. In our first reading from the Second Book of Samuel, we hear a similarly remarkable story. Two clearly guilty people, David and the "sinful woman," found God's mercy. To understand what happened to them, turn to St. Paul's words to the Galations. His testimony of being justified not by "the law" but by "faith" retraced his own journey of conversion, finding salvation by leaving his old and sinful ways, to believing in Jesus Christ, the resurrected Messiah (cf Gal 2:16). Paul had found a new way.
David and the woman also found new paths. David repented after Nathan implicated him in his guilt, and forgiveness followed immediately. The woman loved, and her sins were already forgiven. Forgiveness is not only something we seek, but our heavenly Father has already accomplished it through Christ Jesus. All we need to do is accept it and respond in love. Lewis B. Smedes once wrote: "Forgiveness is God's invention for coming to terms with a world in which despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. God began by forgiving us, and He invites us all to forgive each other."
Our Responsorial Psalm proclaims the blessedness of one who asks humbly and believes his fault is removed his sins are covered. This is why we are free to admit wrongdoing. We need to remember that it is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn 1:29)! It's a done deal. The root meaning of forgiveness is "to be covered." I think what makes some of us stay away from the sacrament of confession is that we don't believe we're forgiven. Forgiveness remains ours for the taking, and for the giving. If we're willing to receive it from God, we may find ourselves more capable of giving it away to those who are in need of it.
Here's a question to ponder on today: What fuels our love? The Pharisees shunned the company of public sinners and in so doing they neglected to give them the help they needed to find healing and wholeness. The woman's action we heard about today in the Gospel was motivated by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus and her gratitude for forgiveness. God is gentle with us, as Jesus demonstrated in turning the spotlight from the repentant woman to the self-righteous Pharisees who found it difficult to see mercy at work. God loves us much, and if we love much, so will we be forgiven.