There is a saying, “Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.” If a child’s body is filthy, does the mother throw it away? She washes the child and takes it on her lap again. Similarly, an illumined guru purifies the minds of impure souls. Swami Apurvananda recorded:
One morning Swami Shivananda, after lying down for a while, was seated on his cot. He seemed solemn and indrawn, but suddenly said to the attendant standing near: “Will you go and see if there is someone who wants initiation?” The attendant looked here and there and then went downstairs, where he found a woman who wanted initiation. After inquiry he was startled by the information she gave about herself. She was young and had come from a village… . She told the story of her sinful life and said that, although born in a brahmin family, she had kept bad company and gone astray… . In a remorseful tone she said, “May I not see him [Mahapurushji] once?”
When the attendant, looking disturbed, returned to the swami, the latter inquired very earnestly, “Tell me, is someone there?” The attendant reluctantly replied, “Maharaj, it is a lady who wants initiation, but … ” Before the attendant could finish what he felt he must say, Mahapurush remarked: “What of that? Ask her to bathe in the Ganges and come to me after visiting the shrine. Sri Ramakrishna is the redeemer of the fallen. He came especially to uplift them. What will happen to them if he does not come to their rescue? One could not then call him the saviour of the fallen.”
The swami was ready to shower his blessings upon her. Later, when after her bath, she came for initiation he said, as if he knew everything about her: “What is there to fear, my daughter? You will certainly be blessed, since you have taken refuge in Sri Ramakrishna, our Master and saviour. Say this: ‘Whatever sins I have committed in this life and in lives past, I offer them here [i.e., to the Master] and I will sin no more.’” After initiation the woman appeared to be an altogether new person.
Later that day the swami remarked: “Do you know why there is so much sickness in this body — so much suffering? The sins of others are being worked out in this body; if not, why should it suffer so much?”
(Source: God Lived with Them by Swami Chetanananda)