Those forgiven much can love the deepest

Kathleen Giffin


Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 12, 2016
2 Samuel 17.7-10, 13 | Psalm 32 | Galatians 2. 16, 19-21 | Luke 7.36-8.3
May 30, 2016

Years ago I became friends with a man who had a deep faith. Early in our friendship, he told me how his life had changed from a self-indulgent way of living to a life with the vibrant faith that was now so evident.

He had been raised a Christian, but like many of his generation had left his church as a young teenager to follow the ways of his culture and generation. As a young adult, he experienced a spiritual hunger and found himself exploring many spiritual paths, none of which brought any conviction or peace.

During this time of searching, the woman he was in a relationship with became pregnant. She looked to him to help her decide the fate of the child she was carrying and, torn by the conflicting pulls of self and duty, he was unwilling to make the commitment to them both that she required.

The day she went for the abortion he realized what he had done, but by then it was too late. The child died, and he was brokenhearted.

Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven. - Luke 7.47

'Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven.'

Luke 7.47

It was not that he wanted to be a part of the family this woman had offered to him; it was that he realized that he could have saved the life of this small child and failed to do so. He had chosen his own comfort rather than rescue a little one.

He was never again the same. His repentance was deep and heart-wrenching. He knew that the wrong he had done could never be repaired. Turning to the God of his youth, he laid himself bare before Jesus, surrendering his life and begging for forgiveness.

It would be a wonderful enough story if it ended with him experiencing a deep conviction that he was indeed forgiven. While that is what happened, that was not the end of his story.

He went on to tell me that because of his sin, his repentance and God's grace in forgiveness he experienced a new life as a disciple of Jesus that satisfied the deepest longings of his heart.

In the midst of this radical conversion, this turning away from a life of selfishness to finding his home in God's house, God gave him another great gift, the woman he married and who journeyed with him in his life of faith.

I am reminded of him when I read the story of the woman who anointed Jesus' head with ointment and washed his feet with her tears. Jesus said it was because of her great sin that she had such great love. One who knows what it is to be forgiven much cannot help but love deeply.

But it is the story after forgiveness that must also take our attention. God gives new life in abundance; it is our good that he intends. The gifts we receive from God's hand are not deserved, they are simply his gift.

(Kathleen Giffin