Psalm 111:7-8, 9, 10
In today’s Gospel, Jesus was invited to dine at the home of Simeon.
Luke records how a woman of the streets provided the amenities neglected
by the host. She bathed the Lord’s feet with her tears, dried them
with her hair, continued to kiss them and anoint them with ointment.
On seeing this Simeon thought, “If this man were a prophet, he would know
who and what sort of a woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”
In defense of her, Jesus told him: “…many sins are forgiven her, HENCE, she
has shown great love.” This is what was read today at Mass from the
New Vulgate translation of Holy Scripture. A while ago when the New
American Bible translation was used, you heard the same defense as follows:
“…her many sins are forgiven, BECAUSE of her great love.”
Anyone can see a difference in the meaning between these two expressions.
But really there is no big problem if properly understood. To begin
with, Jesus forgave all of our sins once and for all when he died on the
cross and offered to reconcile us with the Father. So for example,
today if a person separates himself from the Lord by some sinful action,
God already has forgiven him. However, since we are free, God’s forgiveness
is ineffective until that person who sins accepts the forgiveness by turning
back to the Lord.
The sinful woman turned back to God by her great love. The Good Thief
did it by asking Jesus to “Remember me.” A few ways we turn back to
the Lord are by our contrition or by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
God’s forgiveness is beyond our control. Our only part of the action
consists in accepting or rejecting his forgiveness.
If we sincerely and conscientiously realize what God has done by forgiving
us, then like the woman, (HENCE) we should be moved by great love for him.
Or one can erroneously conclude that what God does in forgiving us just automatically
happens without any involvement on our part, and that is impossible.
On the other hand, without proper understanding a person could think that
it was his love (BECAUSE) that caused God to forgive him. But a person
can hardly cause forgiveness that the Lord already offered freely from the
cross on Calvary. And so regardless of translations, we know God is
offering his forgiveness before, during and after we have sinned. Our
necessary response is to accept the forgiveness by turning back to him in