Today's Gospel and first reading are cases of a “wake-up call.” Both King David and the unnamed Pharisee needed a huge reality check to remember who they truly were and that they had sinned before God. The temptation is there for us all to think that we have our life all in order, all of our ducks in a row, and are sort of the spiritual elite above the “low-class” sinners around us.
Pride, my friends, is the root of all sin, from the first sin of Adam (to be come like gods) through the angel of light, Lucifer, whose non serviam!, “I will not serve!” is a temptation for us all, all they way to the sins of our own lives, of our world. King David forgets who he was, where he came from. The Pharisee forgets that any virtue he has is not something he created from nothing, but that God had fostered in his heart, probably to a great extent through the help of his parents and friends (and also his religious practices of reading and meditating upon God's law).
Let us turn our pride into the humility of our Lord Jesus, who said Ego serviam!, “I will serve!,” even to the point of the Cross and Death. Let us remember Our Lady, Notre Dame, the only one free from sin, who never held it over others and puffed herself up, but humbly served her cousin Elizabeth in her need. Let us remember that we are dust, that our holiness is not our own, and that we are just as fragile as David – capable of slipping into the worst of sins if we are not faithful to God's will with constancy and perseverance. The spiritual life leaves no room for standing still, we are either moving forward or falling backward. We can't fall into David's trap of complacency.
One trick for growth in holiness is shown in today's Gospel: we need to be like the woman who comes to Jesus with sorrow. Now there are two types of sorrow: a destructive sorrow that leads to discouragement, self-pity, and despair, so that we abandon our regimen of holiness; and a healthy, life-giving sorrow that leads to honest self-awareness, a deep-seated gratitude for God's mercy, and a hopeful vision for the future that inspires us to continue in the struggle.
As we acknowledge our sins, we are called to show this second type, this hopeful sorrow, which can only come from not focusing on ourselves and our pride, but focusing on Our Lord. The woman didn't care about what others were thinking, she knew she was loved, and that relationship with Jesus was the most important thing to her. A healthy sorrow is centered on a relationship of love. Love is the source of true sorrow and of holiness.
This is what Christianity is all about. We won't get far in our spiritual lives without following David's model of humble confession, without taking this woman's example of sorrow and love. We need to keep that sense of sorrow about our past sins, a sort of hatred for what sin is (a slap in the face of God) and what it does. We must allow that healthy sorrow to spur us on to love Christ ever more deeply. The more we love, the more we are forgiven. Let us ask Jesus today to give us sorrow, a healthy sorrow, a hopeful sorrow. Let us show him we love Him.