The One Who Loves More

Sunday Gospel Reflection (Luke 7:36—8:3)

The one whose larger debt is forgiven is the one who loves more

The one whose larger debt is forgiven is the one who loves more

The Pharisees in today’s Gospel, miss a  crucial point: Only the one who recognizes their sin, sincerely repents, and asks forgiveness receives the blessing of being forgiven, and hence, loving more. The Pharisees mistake is that they consider themselves to be blameless, and therefore, they look down on other people whom they consider less worthy of God’s favor. Little do they know, their presumption blinds them to what God sees. Jesus’ parable is meant to enlighten them that they should be more concerned with sincerely loving God than they are with comparing themselves with others.

We often hear it said that Jesus ate with sinners. We should also be reminded that Jesus ate with Pharisees – sinners like the rest of us, but too self-righteous to recognize this to be true. Christ’s mercy does not discriminate. Still, the one thing that can stand as an obstacle to his love and forgiveness is our own ego.

Some people’s egotism takes the form of despair (My sins are too great for God to forgive me); the Pharisee’s egotism takes the form of presumption (I am not a sinner and I’m better than other people).

Christ’s subtle message to the Pharisees dining with him is “Don’t be so sure of yourself when you judge this woman.” First, he points out that she loves more and has greater faith than they do. Then, he stuns them by forgiving all her sins. The sinful woman offers a sincere prayer with her tears, which indicate what is in her heart, while astute and calculating Pharisees offer no sign of what their heart holds besides their uncomfortable silence and judgmental glares. Because their hearts are hard and cold, they cannot receive the consolation of Christ’s words of forgiveness.

One important lesson from today’s Gospel is that we should not compare ourselves with others. In God’s eyes we are all his creatures, we are all fallen from grace, and we all need his mercy. Focus rather on your personal relationship with God.

And before we judge other people we should first make sure the plank is removed from our own eye.

Jesus does know that the woman who weeps before him is a sinner. He also knows her heart. If we want to be more like him and imitate him more perfectly, we should try to see people the way he sees them and attend to the sinful people in our lives with compassion, mercy, and understanding.

Of course, this does not necessarily mean that we should tolerate bad sins – love the sinner, hate the sin, like Jesus did.

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2 Responses to The One Who Loves More

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    “The one whose larger debt is forgiven is the one who loves more” reads the picture caption:
    On the other hand, maybe not:

    “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.”

    Matt. 18:21- 30

    Which is not to say the above post is wrong – just that the picture caption is not tight enough 😉


  2. kathleen says:

    Er, I would say that the passage you quote JH is more an illustration of how we should forgive one another from the heart, no matter how difficult, as we are all needy of God’s Loving Mercy and Forgiveness for our sins.
    Whereas I see the topic of the post above as more about not feeling superior to others, simply because our sins might not be so glaringly obvious. The hypocrisy of the Pharisee was this ‘undercover’ sin that Our Lord noticed. He looks into our hearts, and where there is humility and sincere repentance, He pours His Divine Mercy.

    Btw, there was this perceptive comment on the Biltrix post that I think is worth pointing out:
    A careful reading of the gospels reveals that Christ did not denounce Pharisees per se, but rather, hypocrisy, which is a vice that afflicts people regardless of their religious or political affiliations.”


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