Thursday, September 20, 2012

If a man finds it very hard to forgive injuries, let him look at a Crucifix

'It is true that God promises forgiveness if we repent, but what assurance have we of obtaining it tomorrow? - St. Louis de Blois

(Gospel Text: LK 7:36-50)
A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply,
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
"Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus used a parable about two men who were in debt to illustrate how a sin­ful woman could end up being more honored in the kingdom of God than a devoted, educated Pharisee.

When we look closely at the gospel today, many people many think that Jesus forgave this woman because of her good deed. Our culture is so locked into a quid pro quo mentality. That’s not what this passage tells us, and it’s quite clear from other sources that God doesn’t work that way.

You can’t earn God’s favor.

God forgives first, once we ask him in the Sacrament of Confession, and asks the forgiven one to accept that forgiveness through the words of a priest. When one finally realizes that he or she has been forgiven and does accept that forgiveness, then loving action follows. You’ll notice that, in the question Jesus posed His host, He didn’t ask who would be the more grateful, but who would be the more loving. If we can’t bring ourselves to such loving action, maybe it’s because we haven’t really accepted God’s offer of forgiveness.

As Luke makes clear, especially in the narrative surrounding the story of Jesus’ conception and birth, the job of the disciple is to hear, accept and act.

The woman in today’s passage didn’t come with a list of her needs and petitions. She didn’t come ready to debate issues of theology or philos­ophy. She came just to be in Jesus’ presence. All she wanted to do was to spend time with Jesus. She didn’t even care if Simon and his friends tried to throw her out. She was preoccupied with one thing—Jesus—and she would not be denied her chance to wor­ship him.

Life isn’t about the number of hours we spend in the library, at work, in front of the TV, or in bed. We were put on this earth as one of six billion. There are six billion other people, six billion other stories, six billion other experiences out there. By giving each person the same cold shoulder, we deny ourselves the opportunity to make another connection or relationship. Everyone is special! Let us not deny ourselves the opportunity to share our lives with others, even when they are labeled as sinners by the world.

May we all run to the Lord as this woman did!

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