Sin, So Tedious; Love So Enduring – Br. Curtis Almquist
Most of us, most of the time, do not need anyone else’s help for us to judge ourselves poorly. We are well apprised of how we have missed the mark, perjured ourselves, once more done or said those things we have ought not to have done or said, and not done or said those things we should have. Momentarily we will be invited to make a personal, corporate confession of our sin. We will just plough ahead with this. What is so pathetic is we need not be asked for a show of hands, whether time for confession would be helpful. The ancient liturgy of the church – without benefit of having personally surveyed either you or me – presumes the state of things in our soul, and that, yet again, our personal confession of sin would be both helpful and necessary for most all of us. The distinctive quality of confessions, in my experience, is that they are so tedious and boring.
Jesus judges this woman about whom we hear in today’s Gospel lesson. Jesus judges her. Jesus puts a face to God’s judgment, and it is a judgment of love. It is not a judgment of ridicule, or rejection, or hopelessness, or boredom, or eternal condemnation, but rather a judgment of love.
This woman is a known person. It’s her again. We can presume that Jesus is also a known person. It’s him again. She did not pick Jesus at random. She knows something about him, most likely has heard him teaching, seen him healing before. What she is doing, down on her knees, is making her confession with alabaster oil and tears. It’s an extravagant confession, as is her known sin. No words from her are recorded. What’s to say? It’s her again. Most significant in this Gospel story is not whether Jesus bears God’s love, nor whether Jesus bears God’s love for this woman. Jesus has said that before, and she has heard it. The question – her question – is whether Jesus still loves her? Yes, he still loves her. He still loves us.
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Your words are a deep and healing absolution for me. I am freed to search my heart and soul and confess my sins with humility rather than fear.
I feel the infinite love of Jesus enfolding and infusing me and us all. I am filled with gratitude.
You have raised in me a most troubling question: would (do) I have the humility and courage to follow this women’s example? Yes, I continue to sin and I continue to confess and pray to God to strengthen me that I might not go to that dark place again. And my prayers have often been answered and I have praised God. But then my mind and will spring back into action and I lose focus on God and my dependence upon Him. And I am left experiencing guilt all over again.
While distressing, this is how we are. And God loves us and forgives us. But this story causes me to really examine what an honest and thorough confession should look like. I know it is not the three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers of my childhood.
Dear Lord, strengthen and guide me through the practice of a thorough and honest examination of my failures to love and honor you in all that I do. Amen and amen.