Contemplating Forgiveness

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Could we ever have imagined Lent 2020 to unfold in the way that it has? The forty days leading up to Easter Sunday this year has overlapped with global tumult, anxiety, and disease. Our BSVM community joins many others in mourning the loss of what could have / would have / might have been. Even as we grieve, we are committed to staying connected with one another, though our ministry looks different than any of us would have anticipated.

Part of that commitment means we continue to reflect on the way God actively moves in our midst, and we reflect on our own lives and challenges in this season. Every Lent, we reflect as a community on our individual and communal Lenten commitments, and we check-in midway and after Lent to talk about our process. As we approach the end of Lent, we invite you to join us in reflecting on God’s radical grace and forgiveness. May we be encouraged to step away from the crowds and understand the counter-intuitive strength it takes to shelter in place. And may we be challenged to drop our own pointing fingers — wherever or whomever they are blaming — and examine ourselves in the light of God’s redemptive and forgiving love instead.

Lenten Reflection
By Sarah Ceponis 
BSVM 2011-2012

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw.” John 8:1-11

Back in the days of high school drama and cafeteria gossip, I remember hearing of a classmate who had supposedly cheated on his girlfriend. My friends and I, of course, had to discuss it, dissect it, debate it. “It’s so wrong!” I recall declaring. “I’d break up with him.” Back then, and for a long time, my world was full of moral absolutes: black or white, right or wrong, yes or no.

This memory, and my attitude at the time, is what first came to mind when reading today’s Gospel. I would have fit right in with the crowd, trying to persuade Jesus that the adulterous woman had clearly sinned. I can picture my teenage self, hand on my hip and a challenge in my voice: “Now what do you have to say, Jesus?”

Of course, Jesus is a step ahead of the crowds and me. He asks us to move beyond our moral absolutes, our hasty judgments, and our hardened hearts. He quietly suggests turning our gaze inward, and considering all the times we ourselves have fallen short, tripped up, done something wrong. “Who here has never made a mistake?” is what we hear from Jesus, and our indignation disappears in an instant. We drop the stones from our hands, and contemplate forgiveness instead.

Forgiving God,

Help me to remember that though we live in a world
quick to point fingers, to blame, to condemn, I can choose to
have mercy. Guide me to step away from the crowd, and to
realize that it often takes more strength to simply let a stone
drop, than to throw it. Give me the courage to go against the
grain, and always find a way to forgive.