In the first reading God, speaking through Isaiah, said, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they may become white as snow.” That verse was an embarrassment to Martin Luther who was saying our sins are never forgiven. He taught that faith in Jesus, like a white cape just covers over our filth.
Of course God’s complete forgiveness does not cover over the harm we have done to ourselves. We still must live with the shortness of breath, our areas of ignorance, and the poor reputations we have built up over the years.
We can, however, make inroads into those shortcomings by going strong on discipline and acts of generosity. That is what lent is for.