Saturday, June 11, 2016

Shown Great Love

By Jim Bayne

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”  Nathan answered David: “The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.”  (2 SAM 12:13)

I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (Gal 2:20-21)

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." (Luke 7:47)
Blessed is the one whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered. Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile.
(Ps 32:1-2)

I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD," and you took away the guilt of my sin. (Ps 32:5)

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.” From The Unfinished Temple by G.K. Chesterton

In today’s readings, we encounter three individuals who, after a long period spent far from the “Christian Ideal,” encountered the Lord, sought forgiveness and spent the rest of their days living the Christian Ideal of love.

David, despite being especially loved by God and given countless blessings, is not content with what he has; he wants even more.  He seeks the wife of Uriah and has him killed in order to satisfy his want. Under the prodding of Nathan the prophet, David repents and goes on to be a righteous and effective king in battle and civil and criminal justice. He is described as a man after God's own heart.  David learned to love: to live the Christian Ideal.

Paul was dedicated to the persecution of the early disciples of Jesus in the area of Jerusalem.  On the road to Damascus, Paul had his “God experience.”  From then on he began to live the Christian Ideal and forever after regularly acknowledged his guilt and sought to bring God’s love to all he met.

In Luke, a woman who is said to have led a sinful life first washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anoints his feet with oil. Jesus describes this action as a plea for forgiveness which he immediately gives, shocking his host.

In all three of these stories, the ones forgiven go on to lead love filled lives.  The message is, acknowledge your sinfulness, accept forgiveness and go on to live the Christian Ideal of love. The pattern here is that we need to fail before we can become true lovers.

Richard Rohr described this sequence in one of his recent daily meditations:
Old Testament scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann traces the evolution of human consciousness through three sections of Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah (the five books of the Pentateuch), the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature (including Job, the Psalms, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes). Just as children must begin with structure and rules, religion starts with setting boundaries, rituals, and rules about who is in and who is out. It's all about protecting the status quo, our tribal and egoic identity. But eventually, we have to develop the capacity for self-criticism, as the prophets did, which is the necessary second stage. If we do both of these stages well, we will normally be catapulted toward wisdom and holiness.

In today’s readings, we see three people with three very different roles in life “catapulted toward wisdom and holiness” through the action of God’s unconditional forgiveness and love.

If you are reading this reflection, you are most likely one of the blessed who have experienced God’s unconditional love in your own life.  Use this reminder that we are all forgiven, no matter how serious our offense, and we are all loved unconditionally, as a motivation to reach out in forgiveness and love to those in your environment.

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