The church is a forgiven and forgiving community. We must never separate these two. Our experience of the first (divine forgiveness) should quite naturally lead to the second (forgiving others). Having been graced by God, we must be gracious to one another. For this reason, we daily pray as our Lord Jesus taught: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
In the face of the depths of human depravity, Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them.” Why should God forgive? What is the reason Jesus offers? The reason he gives is that we need forgiveness because we are ignorant: “for they do not know what they are doing.” This is amazing grace, amazing love – radical forgiveness in the face of radical sin.
Simon had just enough religion to hate, but not enough to love. He had received just enough grace to taste God’s goodness, but not enough to reflect it to others. He had experienced just enough forgiveness to remain judgmental of others. The odor that disgusted him was, to Jesus, a sweet savor of love!
Contrary to expectations, confession of sin opens us up to grace. Refusing to own our sin closes us to grace. Put simply: we resist grace by denying our sinful state; we experience grace by admitting it. Confession takes sin and grace seriously. We cannot possess the latter without admitting the former.