June 12, 2016 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
June 12, 2016
Fr. George Smiga
Sin is something we often discuss here in church. We know that we are not perfect people, that we fall short, and that in some real way all of us can call ourselves sinners. But not all sin is the same: there are small and commonplace sins, and then there are large and devastating ones. All of us sin in small ways by being unkind or selfish or bending the truth a bit. But some of us here today could also think of a time in our life when we sinned in a serious way. Perhaps there was a time when we betrayed the trust of a spouse or a friend, a time that our actions severely damaged the financial situation of someone who depended on us, or a time when our words detracted from the reputation of someone in a serious way.
The failure of these serious sins can never be completely erased. Even when we are forgiven, even when we reconcile with the person we have hurt, we must live with the recognition of the damage that our sin caused. God will always forgive us. Others will occasionally forgive us. But forgiveness does not put us back where we were before. Serious sin changes us. It becomes a part of our history. We will always remember that I was the person that caused a serious hurt to someone else. Now because serious sin changes us, we must be careful not to let it define us. We can become stuck in our sin, overwhelmed with self-doubt and hopelessness. Here is where today’s gospel is important.
In the gospel a woman who sinned deeply visits Jesus as he dines at the house of the Pharisee Simon. This woman understands that she cannot erase her sin, that she must live with the damage that it has caused. But she comes, not to deny her sin, but to love Jesus. She bathes his feet with her tears and kisses them. The most important line in the gospel are Jesus’ words, “Her many sins are forgiven because of her great love.” The woman comes, not to erase her sin or its effects, but to love. Her example of love provides a way forward for us.
When we have sinned in a serious way, that sin need not paralyze us. Even though we have sinned, we can still love, and love moves us forward. We can love the people in our life who still belong to us. We can love the new friends we have made. We can love those who are in need and who can benefit from our help. The woman in the gospel comes to Jesus, not because she believes she can erase the effects of her sin, but to show her love. Jesus accepts her love, and Jesus will accept ours as well. When we have failed in a serious way, we must live with the results of that sin, but we still have a future. The future is not to deny our sins, but to show our love believing that Jesus will accept our love. Today’s gospel promises us that Jesus will accept every one who loves as a disciple, as one of his own.