A person’s value does not diminish based on how other people see them. We often fall into the trap of judging a person’s worth by their actions in the past, or by their reputation. Or sometimes we treat a person differently based on physical appearance. We think highly of a man who is well dressed and tidy than of a beggar who is shabby and smelly.
Imagine how tough and painful it must be like if our worth was built on our mistakes and physical appearance. Good thing, though, that our Lord’s precepts do not work like ours. His laws transcend the earthly aspects. He looks at us beyond the imperfection of our past.
There are many accounts in the New Testament about how Jesus forgave sinners, but the readings today pose an inspiring message on how the Lord sees our worth as persons. Jesus can forgive because he is the Son of God who has the “authority on earth to forgive sins and exercises this divine power.” (CCC 1441) The Lord’s ability to forgive even the gravest sin only shows his omnipotence and, indeed, unconditional love for man regardless of what has been done against God. His forgiveness allows the sinner to be reunited and accepted by the community; it puts to an end the sinner’s state of isolation and alienation. Importantly, Christ’s forgiveness leads to the sinner’s reconciliation with God and His people. This is the side of where the Lord is coming from – He forgives the sinner because He is Love. He wants us back from being away because of sin. This is how He sees us.
However, being the sinner, where exactly are we in this relationship? Being the one whose worth is justified, how hard are we working to deserve the Lord’s unconditional forgiveness? How have we responded to this kind of love?
The readings this Sunday guide us to obtain God’s grace in forgiveness. We are invited to humble ourselves before God, and to abandon all that we have in great love.
In the second book of Samuel, David, despite being the king of Israel, showed humility when he confessed his evil deeds against the Lord and his people. The Lord forgave him because of his acceptance and admission of sins. Similarly, in the letter to the Galatians, St. Paul exhibited humility before God by dying to himself and allowing Christ to live in him. St. Paul reminds us that Christ Jesus gave himself up to wash us clean of our sins; hence we are called to deny our self-interests and be justified by our faith in Jesus, not by the works of the law. When we humble ourselves before God, we acknowledge that we can do nothing without Him. We recognize that He is Lord who can reset our tally of sins clean.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches us how complete abandon in great love can “raise” a person’s worth in the eyes of man. Firstly, in the parable that Jesus told Simon, between the two debtors who were absolved of their obligations, the one with the greater debt obviously loved the creditor more than the other. As it is true up to this age, whenever we owe someone so much (whether monetary or not), we give that person high regard especially when we are unable to repay the favor given to us. We treat that person like a king and submit to his requests because we were discharged of something we cannot pay back. In essence, we give everything we can to express our gratitude to the creditor or forgiver in exchange of the merciful deed extended to us. We are, in other words, transformed by the absolution – just like how we are transformed by God’s forgiveness.
Lastly, Jesus spoke of unconditional forgiveness to a sinful woman who gave her all to show love for Jesus. In spite of her bad reputation in the city, the woman came to the Pharisee’s house uninvited showing reverence to Jesus by washing his feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, and kissing them unceasingly. Jesus said, “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Jesus upraised the woman because of her intention to give glory to the Lord through her genuine gesture. In the eyes of the Lord, the woman, although known to be a prostitute, was worthy of his forgiveness because of an emptied heart offered before Him.
The Lord’s forgiveness is free for all; we only need to seek it through repentance. And the key to His forgiveness is not based on the gravity of our sin or how tidy we look, or what position we hold in church rather; it is based on our humility and total abandon in great love before the Lord. It is revealed in the Scriptures that God knows exactly what our worth is; the choice is ours to make if we want to be called worthy in His eyes.
Father God, I adore you for your greatness! From the beginning of time, you have always loved and taken care of me as your precious child despite my imperfections and shortcomings. Thank you for washing away my sin by your mercy and compassion. With your grace, please let me always see others in the eyes of love. Amen.