Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sin and Forgiveness

People talk about feelings of "not being enough". So many pieces have been written and shared on that nagging feeling concerning parenthood and many other vocations.

Well, my greatest fear has always been not being good enough for God.

I told my husband this morning that I had that feeling even as a child. My chances of getting to heaven and being with God, seeing the face I longed to see, felt like 50/50 at best sometimes. Yet even as a child I remember telling my dad that all I could do was try, because without God, without seeking and loving and drawing closer to Him, life had no meaning for me - not even all the gifts and blessings it contained. For all those were drawn from Him, I believed.

And so I still struggle with this. I struggled anew with it throughout yesterday and this morning, picking at my many sins like pesky threads hanging lose from my soul.

That is why I cried when a timely reminder in a song I had never heard before, MercyMe's  "Greater", came on the radio while I was on my way to church. It addressed "not being good enough" and the voices that assert it, and then:

"I hear a voice, and He calls me redeemed 
When others say I'll never be enough"


"There'll be days I lose the battle. 
Grace says it doesn't matter, 
'Cause the cross already won the war. 
I am learning to run freely, 
Understanding just how He sees me, 
And it makes me love Him more and more."

My amazement at God's way of communicating His love to us when we're discouraged continued when I got to church, and all the readings pertained to God's incredible mercy, a compassion defying and overpowering human beings' capacity to sin.

The first reading was about David killing Uriah in order to gain for himself Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. And what happened? Nathan, a prophet of God, showed up and told David - after David acknowledged that he had sinned against the Lord - that God had forgiven him.

Really? Yes, really.

In the second reading, St. Paul pointed out that we can never make it through our own works, and then he firmly stated that "Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me." There is our hope for righteousness, our hope for victory. We cannot do it through our own work, but through Christ Jesus.

I resigned myself to crying silently, overwhelmed with gratitude and love, when I heard the Gospel:

A Pharisee invited him to dine with him and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flag of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner." Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you. "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two people were in debt to a certain creditor, one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?" Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly." Luke 7:36-43 (NAB)

Her said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:48-50 (NAB)

I can imagine myself kissing Jesus' feet and washing them with my hair. That was not always so, but I have matured and found greater meaning in Scripture since I began to realize just what a sinner I am.

Our priest in his homily this morning referenced the song "Love and Marriage". It was stuck in his head and driving him crazy this weekend, but he realized that just as love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, so does sin and forgiveness.

My good friend Geraldine said that the Prodigal Son parable made her realize that God's capacity to judge justly and forgive is greater than ours to sin - so great, in fact, that we cannot comprehend it.

And so I ask, can our sins bring us closer to God? Can my sins bring me closer to the One I love and seek? Absolutely. This is what I mean:

When we realize and acknowledge our sins and then realize the capacity of our Heavenly Father to forgive those many sins - and that He does indeed forgive them - we become like the woman who washed, kissed and anointed Jesus' feet.

We love our Lord so very much, and our faith in Him is our salvation.