A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:36-37)
Maybe it’s Lent. Or maybe it’s something else. But recently I’ve become more and more aware of how I fall short of holiness and of perfection. I mean, I knew I was imperfect before but now I’m becoming more aware of how and where I’m imperfect. It’s not exactly a fun process but I can already see how necessary it is.
So, as I was reflecting on this passage from Luke’s Gospel in prayer, I saw the scene differently than ever before. I thought of the woman and what would propel her to be so overwhelmed with emotion and love for God. That’s when I realized-the greater the sin, the greater the gift of salvation. This woman was a big-time sinner. And she knew it just like everyone else in the room did. So, for Jesus to love and forgive her was a BIG DEAL.
For the first time, I became grateful for my imperfection and my sinfulness. Not because they are good in and of themselves but because they help me to appreciate the gift of God’s loving mercy. After all, how can you appreciate a gift that you don’t think you need? Getting saved when you don’t know you’re in danger is like someone giving you a nose-hair trimmer when you can’t see the “overgrowth.” It seems like an empty gesture at most. But this period of personal reflection has given me a greater sense of the “overgrowth” of sin in my life and, as a result, a greater appreciation for what God has given me.
Isn’t this what Lent is about? A time for us to reflect on our sinfulness (and, of course, repent of it) in order to appreciate the gift that we are about to receive again through Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection at Easter. It’s our time to prepare to appreciate the gift by learning how much we need it.
So, as I pray my way through the rest of this Lent, I hope to come to an even better understanding of my own sinfulness so that this Easter I will be the woman crying tears of joy and offering Jesus my most precious gifts in gratitude and thanksgiving.
What about you? Do you know your sins? Are you overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s loving mercy? I pray that this Lent is the Lent that you come to know both of those things better.
Copyright 2019 Laura B. Nelson