As disciples, we have all embraced the core value of forgiveness one way or another.

When we read the Gospel today, we think of how Jesus is telling us to be forgiving people. I’m sure you have heard homily after homily about the value of forgiveness. As disciples, we have all embraced the core value of forgiveness one way or another. If you are like me, forgiveness can often be one of the most difficult values to live out. But we have all heard this message before. And we all continue to work on the virtue of forgiveness in our daily lives.

The story in today’s Gospel is familiar. Jesus is invited to a dinner party, and a woman provides a service that His host had failed to offer. The woman approaches Jesus without making eye contact. Her attention is on His feet and the reverent and tender care she brings to washing them with her tears, wiping them with her hair and anointing them with ointment. She has little but the ointment from the alabaster jar and kisses and tears from her own self to give in an act of sorrowful love.

The other guests at the party were scandalized because the woman was considered by them to be a “sinner”. Jesus should have known! Jesus responds first by pointing out His host’s lapse, and then by telling a little parable about two individuals forgiven debts, one small and one large, and asks His host which would be more loving. The host correctly answers that the one forgiven the most would likely be the most grateful and loving. Jesus then tells the assembled guests that the woman’s sins have been forgiven. She couldn’t have done it had she not already accepted God’s forgiveness. We learn that none of us can earn God’s favor. God forgives first and asks the forgiven one to accept that forgiveness. When one finally realizes that he or she has been forgiven and does accept that forgiveness, then loving action follows.  If we can’t bring ourselves to such loving action, maybe it’s because we haven’t really accepted God’s offer of forgiveness.

Do you believe that Jesus loves you so much that He died on the cross to free you from your sins? Do you believe that without Jesus’ death on the cross you would be doomed to hell forever because of your sins? Each one of us has been forgiven an enormous, un-payable debt. Therefore, we should:

  • cry tears of love, contrition, and joy
  • love Jesus so much that we throw ourselves at His feet
  • love Jesus so much that we wash, kiss, and perfume His feet ,
  • be impelled by love to share the good news of justification and forgiveness through Jesus,
  • forgive others for even the worst offenses – after all that the Lord has forgiven us, and
  • Love everyone, even our enemies, because Jesus first loved us.

If our love is small, then we do not realize how loved and forgiven we are. If our love is great, “we have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”. “Grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love”. Then love and forgive accordingly.

Perhaps another message in today’s Gospel helps us in our interactions with regular people in daily life. Do we want to be the host or do we want to be the sinner? The host did not offer to wash the feet of Christ. The sinner washed his feet with her own tears.

I think this piece of scripture shows us that there isn’t a “regular” person. We aren’t all equals. To borrow a political term, we exist in a state of equity, not equality. We have all had different experiences, different relationships, and different outcomes. The best thing we can do for a person is celebrate their individuality – we are all people, but we have very different experiences. Treating other strangers as they are all the same person – someone you do not know – is not what we are supposed to do. A simple smile, a polite “how are you today?” or even a helping hand can help build your connection with strangers.  By giving each person the same cold shoulder stranger, we deny ourselves the opportunity to make another connection or relationship. We need to embody the spirit of the sinner in this passage: everyone is special. Let us not deny ourselves the opportunity to share our lives with others. Let us each smile at someone today.


2 Responses

  1. Thanx for the inspiring message.I presented a programme of forgiveness on Radio Maria recently and I found out that the problem of God’s people is lack of forgiveness.Thereby missing healing,graces,blessings and God’s love.
    Godfrey Wababa [Lt.Col]

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