Opening our Eyes to our Sinfulness

Luke 7:36-50

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says, "The one who's forgiven little, loves little." In other words, those who don't ask for forgiveness very often have little genuine love for others.  We’re reminded today that we need to open our eyes to our sinfulness.  If we spend time in daily self-examination, seeking to better understand our sinfulness, we will give ourselves the opportunity to renew ourselves in love.

 

We are fresh off of hearing yesterday’s beautiful recitation about love in the reading from St Paul to the Corinthians. In it, Paul says, “If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I have nothing.”  As Fr Bob described yesterday, Paul was appealing to the Corinthians to let the love of Christ that they had experienced at their conversion overcome their faults and heal their divisions.

 

We're all blind, to some degree, to the sins we commit.  It’s our inclination not to want to see them. We're afraid that admitting our sins will somehow prove that we don't deserve to be loved, or that God will punish us by making life difficult. So, without thinking about it (thinking about it would open us to the truth), we rationalize away our own sinfulness. We focus on other people's sins while defending our actions. We justify ourselves, forgetting that Jesus already justified us on the cross.

 

I’m reminded of the pane of glass analogy from Bishop Barron- He said that the soul is like a pane of glass.  It’s the saint who turns his pane of glass, to face the sun so that all of its smudges become apparent. Those that keep their soul (their pane of glass) facing the dark are those who haven’t yet made the commitment to fully love.  

 

Sin causes us to “miss the mark,” - we fail to love wholeheartedly. As followers of Christ and aspiring saints, we have been redeemed from the power of sin, yet we are still vulnerable to it, because we haven’t yet made a full commitment. Our daily journey toward heaven involves recalibrating the positioning of our souls for better self-examination and more thorough cleansing, allowing us to grow in holiness.

 

Consider which person in today’s scripture enjoyed the presence of Jesus more: Simon the Pharisee or the sinful woman? When we're like Simon, caught in the self-deception of believing that we're better than people whose sins are plainly visible, we're really trying to protect ourselves from getting punished. And in our self-focus, love is impeded.

 

When we’re like the sinful woman, honest with ourselves about missing the mark, we discover a greater love: We discover the depth to which God cares about us. We appreciate what Christ did for us on the cross. We enjoy his presence so much more!

 

We may not think about it much, but during Mass, we have a built-in opportunity to seek forgiveness for the times we’ve missed the mark.  In the Penetential Act, we are given absolution of our lesser sins that come to mind - those sins we call “venial” sins.  After we ask for mercy, the priest says, “May God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and give us life everlasting.”  Of course, this happens so quickly that it may just pass us by without allowing for a good examination of conscience.  

 

But in anticipation of the Penitential Act, our quiet time before Mass is a good time for self-reflection - if we can make time for it.  It allows us to consider all the ways (big and small) that we have missed the mark.  

 

By adopting the posture of the sinful woman (head bowed, on our knees, and our eyes either closed or focused at the feet of Jesus) we can more clearly see our sinfulness.  And when we can't think of any new sins, we can tell God: "Forgive me Lord for being blind – and for wanting to be blind – to my sins."

 

We should take comfort in knowing that we serve a forgiving God, who doesn’t seek to judge but seeks only to gather us in faith.  God looks beyond our sinful past mistakes and instead looks at our potential. That’s what Jesus did with the woman.  No matter how many times we’ve messed up in the past, he is always willing to embrace us.

 

So, let us ask God today to help us to look into those deep dark corners of our existence, those places where we previously purposefully blind. Help us to expose the light of truth to our frailties and, as a result, grow in confidence that, with those dark spots exposed and then removed, we will become renewed in love, both with each other, and with our loving Father.

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