Say You’re Sorry Already

Say You’re Sorry Alreadyfaceless1

I’m not going to pretend in writing this week’s pastoral letter that the headlines in politics don’t demoralize me just a bit. It is hard to image how we would even attempt to watch the news in front of our children these days. We want to teach children to be polite, not to bully, to be honest and truthful, and yet when we see what is going on, the dissonance is palpable, so I’ll just acknowledge that it is on my mind and not write another word about politics.

There have been blatant lies, deceit, injustice, inexcusable ignorance, infidelity, sexism, and fraud.

To be sure, I’m not talking about politics anymore. I already said that I’d avoid that topic. Now I’m talking about the Bible and the readings from the Lectionary this weekend.

Through all three of the readings at today’s Mass we get a glimpse of the impasse created by the human experience of sin. In the first reading (2 SM 12:7-10,13) we hear about King David who acted like a brash pompous power mogul committing atrocities that would cause even the most arrogant of our politicians to blush.

Next we see the fastidious legalism of Saint Paul (GAL 2:16,19-21), who admittedly was so pedantic at twisting the law towards his own resolve that he could probably make a the most evasive politician seem like a highly merited Boy Scout.

And to top it off, the main character in the Gospel is a “sinful woman” (LK 7:36-8:3). The text doesn’t give us any other clues about the nature of her sin, so it is unfair for me to draw a comparison to a politics. I’ll just leave it at that. She’s a sinner. So much so that she finds herself weeping enough tears to wash the feet of Jesus. That’s a lot of tears.

In every story, there is an unapologetic and instantaneous pivot made by the central character worth noting. There is a change of heart. The woman cries. Saint Paul says “For through the law, I died to the law, that I might live for God.” And King David simply says, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

And just like that, God’s mercy flows upon them like a torrent. It defies all of our expectations of what justice looks like. Over the greatest sin flows the greatest love.

Jesus says in the Gospel today, “The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” It’s one of these guru-like-wisdom pieces in Jesus’ sayings that often get overlooked. We don’t really love very well if we haven’t touched within ourselves the deep pain that separates us from one another and from God. The tendency for those in the lime light and even those not in the lime light is to build a wall of denial around their sinfulness. And when pressed, seeing that the wall is an impossible delusion, the arrogant will double down and attempt to build a bigger wall, even more strident than the first.

But King David, Saint Paul, and the sinful woman are lifted up as heroes today. Not because of their sin, but because they demonstrate a path that reaches past their sin. The game is up! Admit limitation! Retreat. Cry. Die to entrapment. Say you’re sorry already! It’s that easy! Let God love you so that you will be free to be in love with God and others.

I’m tempted now days when watching the news to shout at the TV and tell the demagogues “Say you’re sorry already! It’s that easy. Just say you made a mistake!” But maybe I need to just start where I can. With myself.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

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