Gratitude. We have the choice of going through life either resenting or rejoicing. We can either approach life with serenity or live in constant fear of what we will lose…as if life were a piece of property to cling to.
Our text today tells us that the key to gratitude—especially the most important sort of gratitude, gratitude to God—is the gift of forgiveness, the gift of absolution. Two people are on stage: a Pharisee and a “sinful woman.” Both interact with Jesus. But where the Pharisee seems to sit in judgement over others and deals with Jesus only perfunctorily, the woman pays no heed to what others think as she devotes whole-hearted attention to Jesus. Somewhere she must have already heard Jesus tell her that her sins were forgiven. Her gratitude to Jesus now shows. Once again Jesus says again to her, as if the news is too good to be true, “Your sins are forgiven” (7:48).
I invite you this week to imagine that the cycle of forgiveness and gratitude is like air in your lungs. Ponder your own need for God’s forgiveness…the people and places in your life where you love has been less than loving, the relationships broken…and breathe deep the promise that “[God], who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins…” (1 John 1:5). You won’t be able to stop there. Exhale! Let this breath of life fill you up to overflowing…but then, as you breathe out, picture to yourself how the gift of forgiveness you have just received will translate into gratitude. What will such gratitude show?
Christian author Henri Nouwen writes that the freedom of the Christian journey “is only possible when we have a deep sense of belonging. To whom then do we belong? We belong to God, and the God to whom we belong...calls us to gratitude and joy.”
I’m looking forward this week to seeing where the gratitude we share in Christ leads.