Love and Forgiveness

Luke 7: 36-50
1 Tm 4:12-16/Ps 111:7-10

A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?
(Luke 7:41-42)

Our debts can never be repaid,
His pains and death no greater loss;
The greatest LOVE Christ had displayed
When He forgave us on the cross.

Our Lord posed this question to Simon to make His host see beyond the sinfulness of the woman (who came to the banquet uninvited) to her greater love for having been forgiven of her sins. He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?” (Simon had seen her in a different light.) “I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” (Lk.7:44-47)

Reflection

In this touching encounter in a prominent pharisee’s house, Jesus was able to convey a number of lessons to His contemporaries, who “could not see”, and to future generations of His followers, who would become richer by meditating on His words and seeing His lessons in the Gospel. The first lesson that we learn in this Gospel account of Luke is the grace of perception — of seeing with eyes of compassion, rather than of judgment. Simon the pharisee and host of Jesus, when he witnessed the uninvited woman display her affection to his VIP guest, thought, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him–that she is a sinner.” (7:39) By thinking thus, he was doubting the wisdom of Jesus (“Is he really a prophet, as they say he is?”) and judging the character of the woman. He could not see that her actions displayed her repentance and conversion.

And that leads us to the more important lesson — that those forgiven of greater sins are more grateful, and consequently love God more than those who feel righteous, and feel less penitent. “Much love follows much forgiveness.”

How many among us share the attitude of Simon the pharisee? How many of us walk in the other side of the road in order to avoid contact with the victims of sin, rather than help them get back on their feet and lead them again to Jesus?

Father, we acknowledge our sinfulness, and praise You with hearts filled with love for all that You have done for us, unworthy as we are. Our debts of sin can never be repaid, because no greater love can ever compare to Your Son’s death on the cross for our salvation. Thank You for all Your love. Amen.

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