Grace to you!
I apologize for not providing you with my daily reflections for three days in a row. I had an unpredicted, unusually hectic schedule that affected my productivity level. Hope you understand.
In today’s reflection, I share the sentiments of true love that arises from perfect contrition.
Perfect contrition is a technical concept in our Catholic moral theology. It means that kind of remorse or feeling of guilt which arises from a deep love for God who loves us so much, and we failed to return the love. It is also called a contrition of charity because one feels sorry for hurting oneself, who deserves better; and more importantly, for not reciprocating God’s love.
In perfect contrition, the sinner isn’t repenting for fear of eternal punishment. The sinner is repenting because they are in love with God and in gratitude to the unimaginable grace of God which is lavished on them despite their unworthiness. Such remorse is the best of all. Such a contrite heart is pleasing to the Lord. It’s justified.
In the Gospel of Luke 7:36-50, I see an example of a person who is drawn to the feet of the Lord with contrition of charity. The sinful woman who has been shown much love and mercy and forgiveness by the Lord comes kneeling at the Lord’s feet. She bathes the Lord’s feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. She has received so much from the Lord. In gratitude and love, she demonstrates her love to the one from whom she has been healed of the wound of sin.
The Lord uses her gesture to teach us the truth worth spreading. To the critical onlookers, such as Simon to whom the Lord directly addressed, the Lord says: “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk 7:47).
I ponder why here the Lord makes a connection between forgiveness of sin and increased love. Consider that if there is no vulnerability, or realization of incompleteness, one would hardly need another person. We respond in love because we feel we are not utterly complete. We feel some incompleteness. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen would suggest that in our heart, God has left a hole to be filled in Him. This is similar to Saint Augustine’s idea that we find rest in God.
The need for community, friendship and relationships relate to this incompleteness. In that incompleteness too is sentiment of gratitude when we find it. In it is also sentiment of love when we are taken and welcome in a lovefest despite our weaknesses.
I have never seen where love grows when the lover feels they are utterly perfect. I have never seen the depth of love in the heart of a person who feels he or she is superior to the other whom the person loves. Rather, I see formalistic, one-sided relationship in which the person takes the so-called loved one as a tool or an instrument at his or her service.
The woman in the gospel demonstrates that true love grows because the lover is a humble disciple of the blessings of love. The lover knows he or she isn’t perfect. The lover knows he or she is in need of the grace coming from Divine Love. That grace is expressed in forgiveness of sins. It is expressed in salvation. Such is a welcome healing, satisfying the heart.
I pray that like this woman, we learn the healing grace of contrition of charity. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 24 Ordinary Time: 1 Tim 4:12-16; Lk 7:36-50]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.