Psalm 130:3-4; 51:17
“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you is found forgiveness. …] My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
The cry of the sinner is clear: how can I survive if God marks my sins? If the life-giving love of God is contingent upon conditions that I must be fulfilled, and which I always break by my constant sinning (“a righteous man falls seven times”, Proverbs 24:16), then how will I ever attain it? But the psalmist instead declares: with God is found forgiveness. What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is the remission of an offence. It can be obtained in two ways: by doing reparation for the offence, or by an act of the will to simply forgive. The psalmist cries that his sins are so great he simply will not be able to stand before God, for he cannot offer reparation for them all. Yet he does not despair, and he insists: all I have to offer is my sorrow for the sins I have committed, and this God will not refuse, because even though I am a sinner, He still loves me the same.
Isaiah 1:18; 43:25
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. …] I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
What is the Lord speaking here? That no matter how great a sin, it can still be forgiven. Why is forgiveness given to the sinner? Either because the sinner does something to deserve it, or because God loves him despite his sinfulness. And the Lord says: “for My own sake I will cancel your transgressions and no longer remember your sins”. The Lord forgives because He loves the sinner, even after he sinned, and gravely. Remember the Prodigal Son? ““Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and you. I don’t deserve to be called your son anymore.” The father said to his servants, ‘Hurry! Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger…My son was dead and has come back to life.” The Father’s love is not in question here…the Father still loved the son, even after he no longer deserved to be called his son. He had never ceased loving him. For years he kept watching and when he saw him, he literally ran out of the house to embrace him. The Father did not care about all the son had done because he loved Him without conditions - he is his father, and the child is his son.
The Lord has appeared from afar to me. “Yes, I have loved you with everlasting love, therefore have I drawn you, taking pity on you.”
Now the Lord speaks through the prophet stating: “I have loved you with everlasting love.” What kind of love is that which deserves the attribute of “everlasting”? A love that by definition has no end. Such a love is subject to no conditions. God loves (it is His will to love those He creates, for out of love He creates them) and with everlasting love (a beloved creature cannot lose this love, no matter what). Now what happens when sin occurs? Love is interrupted or diminished on our side - we are the ones who love with finite love, since we are finite creatures. But the Lord, who loves of infinite love, takes pity on us sinners and draws us back to Him again. It is out of this unconditional love that when we fail to love Him back, He lowers Himself out of pity for us and comes and draws us back to Him - which Christ wonderfully depicted as the behavior of the Good Shepherd, of the Father running out as soon as he sees His son return, but in a special way, of Peter.
In His omniscence, Christ knew Peter would gravely sin by denying Him three times in the moment of greatest need (while He was telling the Sinhedrin “ask those who have heard me”, his main disciple was outside saying: “I know not that man”. Yet, out of love, He foretold this to Him, in order to make Him aware of the fact that He loved him regardless. And this is why, when Peter met the Lord again face to face, it was the Lord who asked Peter: “do you love me?”. Because sin injures our love towards Christ, not Christ’s love towards us.
John 3:16, Luke 5:32, John 15:13, Romans 5:8
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance”…“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
This is essential. Why does Christ come to us? In between creation and the Birth of Christ, all we did was to sin, and greatly. The chosen people, too, had been repeatedly unfaithful to the Old Covenant (as Scripture describes again and again). So why take a further step after all this, and come to us in Christ the Son, and go as far as to suffer and die for our sins? What is this great deed done that moved God to love us of such love? What condition was fulfilled? In truth, no condition was fulfilled. Seeing that in two occasions (in the state of original holiness and in the Old Covenant) man had been unfaithful to God, God decided to take the last step and to come in person. He would take flesh, become man, and prove His unconditional love by laying down his very life for his friends…and as the apostle reminds us, his friends were not the righteous, but the sinners. For the salvation of sinners he came, and for the salvation of sinners he died.