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Who merits forgiveness

Jun 19, 2013, 12:50 PM | Article By: FR. EDU GOMEZ - Parish of the Resurrection, Brikama

We commit a sin by turning away from the way of God and stubbornly going our own way.To sin is to rebel against God and His way, to demonstrate by our words and actions that we prefer our own convenience to the path that He has marked out for us.Among other things, it is selfishness and pride that lead to sin.Now when we sin, we become disdainful to the Lord just as we have disdained His precepts.Sin also belittles us and brings down our self-esteem and the esteem that we have in the sight of others, it brings down our Spirit and gives rise to a feeling of despondency in our hearts.At such a point, there could be many false alternatives neither of which provides a solution to our problem.One of these is the tendency to keep quiet and continue to conceal our sins and to die in silence.This is a solution which the Psalmist tried and has stated thus, the result that he got from it:“I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.I groaned all day long, for night and day your hands were upon me.Indeed, my strength was dried up as by the summer’s heat” (Psalm 32:3-4).

Another alternative is to distract ourselves by pointing fingers elsewhere, talking about others, analyzing their faults and sitting in judgment over them.  The Scribes and Pharisees of the Gospel where professionals in applying this kind of alternative.  We saw it today even in Simon the Pharisee who hosted Christ in a dinner.  Immediately the woman who was a sinner came in and started to touch Jesus Christ, Simon was eager to analyze the woman and her sinfulness and to assess the limitation of Jesus who couldn’t even know the kind of woman that was touching Him.  All these considerations consciously or unconsciously were aimed at shielding him from the knowledge and admission of his own sins.  It was also this very mechanism that David had initially applied when on being confronted by prophet Nathan of his sins (through a proverb), he sought to shield himself by handing out an uncompromising judgment on the man in the Prophet’s story (2 Samuel 12:1-6).     It was then that the Prophet declared as follows to him:  “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7).  Another false option for one who has sinned is to try to seek justification through His own will and effort without any recourse to God.  It is the same pride and self-centeredness that  has caused him to sin when he just went his own way in sheer defiance of the path marked out for him by God that is propelling him to make the journey back to righteousness on his own and by his own means.  Such a person is bound to be frustrated.  Listen to St Paul speaking to us the today:  “We acknowledge that what makes a man righteous is not obedience to the law, but faith in Jesus Christ.  We had to become believers in Christ Jesus no less than you had, and now we hold that faith in Christ rather than fidelity to the law is what justifies us, and that no one can be justified by keeping the law” (Galatians 2:16).

Just like David and the Psalmist, the main thing for us is to admit that we have sinned.  We cannot afford to keep silent any longer about it, we cannot afford to point finger somewhere and longer.  Light, strength and joy came back into the life of the Psalmist on the day that he declared as follows:  “I will confess my sin to the Lord” (Psalm 32:5).  David regained his peace when he made the following admission before the God and His prophet Nathan:  “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).  What we have destroyed by our pride and arrogance at the presence of the Lord, we have to rebuild through humility before Him.  The evil we have done by our selfishness, we have to undo by selfless abandonment before him.  It needs courage to come before the Lord and admit who we are and our many sins, seeking forgiveness and healing remedy for the afflictions caused by our sins.  We have to remember that God knows our sins even when we keep quite about them and fail to admit them.  He is not fooled or easily deceived when we start to point finger at other places as a defensive mechanism.  On the contrary, He knows that we are adding to our own sins by sitting in judgment over others instead of repenting of our own wickedness.

God our father is full of love and compassion.  He shows that compassionate love of His to us mostly through His forgiveness of our sins at anytime that we humbly confess and admit them before Him.  Yes the Psalmist confirms His love as follows:    “The Lord is kind, and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in love.  How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all His creatures”.  The amount of forgiveness and favour we receive from God after the sad event of our sin is determined by the disposition of our hearts towards His love.  When we are open and sincere as we come to Him even after our sins, that is a sign not just that we believe in His love which takes care of our many sins, whatever they might be, but that we have even resolved sincerely not to sin again as a reciprocation of His love.  It is only a child who is willing and eager to regain His innocence and to re-establish the broken bond of love between him and the father that could like the Prodigal Son, afford to come and throw himself at the feet of his father, laying bare his wretchedness and confessing in uncompromising a term, all his sins.  The day that a woman who was a sinner entered the house of Simon the Pharisee “waited behind Jesus at His feet, weeping, and her tears fell on His feet, and she wiped them away with her hair, then she covered His feet with kisses, and anointed them with the ointment”  (Luke 7:38).  Christ knew that this poor woman, by her humble penitence and deep love merited forgiveness and God’s love more than anybody, even his host who was already sitting in judgment.  For this, He made the following declaration before Simon and the woman in the presence of the audience:  “Simon you see this woman?  I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  For this reason, I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love.  Then he said to her, ‘you sin are forgiven’.  Those who were with Him at the table began to say to themselves, ‘who is this man, that He even forgives sins?  But He said to the woman ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace”’ (Luke 7:44-50).