The existence of the death penalty suggests that the
demands of strict justice cancel any hope of forgiveness. How easily this mind can seep into the heart of Christian life where forgiveness and mercy remain the basic experience and enduring cornerstone of faith.
Wide and long is the inventory of human weakness.
Often, in the ‘chit-chat’ of Christian living, we muse about which is the greatest sin...and the one least forgivable. The pages of Scripture are replete with examples of weakness even among the best. We think of Moses, of David, of Peter and Paul - who each in their own way betrayed their best self. Yet, however great the crime, we rejoice in the mercy and forgiveness of God to forgive. No sin is beyond God’s power to forgive, be it murder or adultery, betrayal or persecution.
Christian experience and faith assert the unconditional
love and forgiveness of God. While we look at the magnitude
of the sin, God looks at the heart of the sinner. Gracious is his call to reconciliation: that the sinner comes to recognize and acknowledge one’s weakness and arrive at sorrow of heart - all within the gaze of God’s grace.
In today’s we hear the story of the great King David
whose blinding lust lead him to conniving, betrayal, murder and adultery. Paul, too, appears, whom we know, by his own word, to have been the great persecutor and righteous warrior against early Christians. And in the gospel, we meet a woman, known
about town as a notorious sinner. All find forgiveness in the acknowledgment of their weakness and sin.
The reading’s have much to tell about God and His
merciful love. Regardless of the crime, all can find forgiveness and rehabilitation in God’s love. With this awareness firmly planted in our hearts, we find courage to acknowledge the
nature of our sin.
Let us, then, in the recent words of Pope Francis, learn
to “live love” - reaching out to one another in the same manner that the Lord reaches out to us. Happily for us, love and
forgiveness transcend every demand of strict justice and right.
“To repay good with evil is demonic; to repay good with
good and evil with evil is legalistic, but to repay evil with good is Christ-like!”
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