"FOR SHE LOVED MUCH"
The Master mingled with many types and conditions of people. He welcomed every opportunity to plant in thought the seed of Truth, whether his listener was a Pharisee or a Samaritan, a fisherman or a tax collector. He understood so well that all are equal before God and that the objective of Christianity—universal salvation —includes every individual of every race and clime. Not one is excluded.
One day Simon, a Pharisee, invited him to dinner at his home, and he accepted. A woman of bad repute came in while he was there, and to show her love for the purity and goodness he radiated, washed his feet with her tears of repentance and wiped them with her hair. Simon, unmindful of the repentance that was in her thought, silently criticized Jesus for permitting her to do this.
The Master perceived Simon's thoughts and silenced his criticism with a parable. A creditor had two debtors, one for fifty pence and one for ten times more. "And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me," said Jesus to his host, "which of them will love him most?" Simon said the one he had forgiven most, and Jesus approved.
Simon had shown no signs of humility and a heartfelt desire to be freed from his materiality. This woman had unceasingly given evidence of her love for the true, or spiritual, idea of Life and man which the Master exemplified. Jesus then told Simon something that the entire human family surely, needs to assimilate. Said he, "Her sins which are many, are forgiven" (Luke 7: 47). Why? "For she loved much." And finally came his explanation of all unsolved human problems: "But to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."
In the exact proportion that we love God with all our heart and love the man of His making, beholding this manhood in our brother and in ourselves, can we gain the forgiveness, or destruction, of what mortal mind claims are our mistaken sinful beliefs. Just how is this accomplished?
God, infinite Love, is Truth, the totality of all cause and effect, the one noumenon, including all phenomena. Sin, in its broad meaning, is all wrong-mindedness, the thinking which accepts as reality the false material sense of mind, life, creation, and man. Sin is the selfhood of mortality expressed by mortals. Therein is all sickness, lack, strife, and death.
As the creditor in the parable freely forgave both debtors, presumably because of their worthiness, so God, Love, the creditor in a sense of us all, forgives or frees mortals, one and all, in the degree of their spiritual worthiness. And their worthiness is measured by their love for God, unselfed good, and for the manhood and womanhood of God's making. Our debt to God is never burdensome, and we discharge it in the degree we love Him and His. By our understanding love of omnipresent Love, and our consistent realization that our selfhood—and our brother's selfhood as well—is forever Love's own, ever loving and ever lovable, we find our oneness with the Life that is Love. Then we see our unrelatedness to all that is loveless, sinful, and evil.
A common mistake is for mortals to believe they can love God, but at the same time, have a grudge, resentment, or ill will toward some fellow man. They fool themselves, but certainly not God, universal Love. How can one love God understandingly if he believes man, the evidence of God, is mortal, unlovable, and deserving of resentment and ill will? Man, the effect and expression of Love, God, is ever in God, and no one can really love God and not love what is in Him, that is, man. God's effect cannot be separated from its cause, mortalized, and made the object of ill will. And yet the effort to do so is the futile game in which many mortals, even some Christian Scientists, are engaged.
Are you one of them? As a student of Christian Science can you honestly say that this statement of our great Leader applies to you: "The Christian Scientist cherishes no resentment; he knows that that would harm him more than all the malice of his foes" (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19). Think of it, resentment entertained by you or me toward anyone, anywhere, no matter what human thinking says is the provocation, is more harmful to us than all the malice any mortal, or mortals, may entertain toward us. Why poison ourselves with resentment?
"Brethren," continues Mrs. Eddy, "even as Jesus forgave, forgive thou. I say it with joy,—no person can commit an offense against me that I cannot forgive" (ibid., p. 19). Here is what you and I must do: we must so clearly and so constantly know with spiritual sense that there is nothing but infinite Love and its kingdom of Love-expressing individualities that we cannot be drawn by the personification of evil called a wrong-thinking, evil-talking, bad-acting mortal into the maelstrom of error's materialistic kingdom.
Let us remember the woman whom Simon regarded as a hopeless sinner. She loved her way out of a self-made hell into some sense of her place in Truth's Love-made heaven. Her humility, honesty, and sincerity led her to the Christ, her Saviour. Likewise it may truly be said of us if we are equally humble, honest, and sincere. Our sins, that is, all kinds of material beliefs, though they seem many, are forgiven when we have learned to love much.
Loving brings forgiveness, and forgiveness brings healing. What a simple but profound truth!
Paul Stark Seeley