Repentance is something that provokes God to love. Depending on the depth of repentance God’s love and mercy continue to overflow in geometric proportion. We have two prominent examples today. Highlights of forgiveness to David and to the sinful woman at Simon’s house are star examples of God’s unconditional forgiveness, compassion and overflowing love.
The moment David said ‘I have sinned’, which was a true and contrite confession, God forgives. The visible signs of repentance on the part of the woman, the uninvited intruder at Simon’s house, provokes Jesus to wash away the effects of her sin and to extol her as a marvelous example of true love and gratitude. However, in these cases, and probably in all cases, consequences go with our actions.
In the case of David the consequence was perpetuation of the sword over his house through generations. The woman who received mercy and abundance of love from Jesus must have remained for quite some time a social outcast as a consequence of her sin. In spite of the consequences of sin, God’s mercy and the abundance of his love remain with the forgiven sinner always. That is the basic difference between human law and divine law.
Human law’s prescription for the breach of law is condemnation and punishment with hardly any chance for forgiveness, whether the offender repents or not; whereas for divine law it is unconditional acceptance, forgiveness and love. Though God’s forgiveness comes unconditionally, it is our faith in him that makes us experience this forgiveness and love.
That is what St. Paul is telling us today, namely, it is not necessarily the works of law, that is, the corporal or spiritual repairs we do in order to get away from the scar of our sin, but it is God’s mercy that erases sin from us, which we experience with faith alone. Faith means believing something and someone we haven’t yet seen and trusting in him and in his promises. When we have this we too will be empowered to say along with St. Paul,
‘it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me’ Galatians, 2:20.