This weekend we have a guest preacher to make the annual appeal for the Propagation of the Faith, so I have the weekend off from preaching. It's kind of a bummer, because the dinner scene in the house of the Simon the Pharisee is so beautiful.
Jesus reminds us that to know ourselves as forgiven will be the source of our love of God.
Our choice is not whether or not to be a sinner. Our choice is what kind of sinner we want to be; we can allow our selfishness and sin to harden us into bitterness and idiosyncrasy, making ourselves unhappy and everyone around us miserable in the process, or we can allow our consciousness of ourselves as forgiven sinners to soften us and make us grateful for God's love.
As Catholics we sometimes get into a kind of angelism that injures our ability to experience this. The process goes like this: we go to confession, make a fresh start, and are happy because we are free from sin, a good and godly person. Then, after we sin again, the second temptation sets in, inviting us to despair for our Christian life and virtue, and telling us that we have ruined everything. There is no point in praying because we are ashamed of ourselves before God, and we may as well just give in to sin because we have already ruined our perfect little self. This second temptation reveals the trouble: mixed in with our love of God is a little bit of selfish vainglory; part of us wants to worship ourselves as an excellent and devout soul.
Instead of leading us into the shame that makes us want to hide from God and the frustration at not yet being the saint we want to be, we must allow our sinfulness to make us love the forgiving God all the more. Far from making us forget about prayer and letting our vigilance go, this will push us to prayer. When we love someone, we seek out time to be with that person. So it is with God. Instead of getting down on ourselves, the gentleness of God's love will help us to forget about ourselves. The more we do this, the less we will sin because we have begun to forget about our arrogant selves in favor of God.
In this is revealed another truth, simple to say but very hard to really learn: the way to stop sinning is not by trying not to sin, but by letting ourselves fall in love with God. Love is always liberating because it pushes us into falling out of ourselves and into another. Because He is eternal, infinite, and a superabundant Love, falling in love with God is the most liberating thing of all.