Thursday, September 18, 2014

Do not try to excuse your faults; try to correct them

Do not put off any longer confessing all your sins, for death will soon come. Give and it will be given you; forgive and you will be forgiven. . . Blessed are they who die repentant, for they shall go to the Kingdom of Heaven! But woe to those who are not converted, for these children of the Devil will go with their father into everlasting fire. Be watchful, therefore. Shun evil, and persevere in well-doing until the end."-- Saint Francis of Assisi

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.”

We have to get the sequence right: forgiveness first, then loving service. The woman’s response in today’s gospel passage was not so much to Jesus, as to the Pharisee’s abominable behavior. Her response was for Jesus because she accepted what He had told the village that day about God’s forgiveness. She didn’t wash Jesus’ feet to gain that forgiveness, for she realized all she had to do is ask and forgiveness would be given to her.

If we really understood that we could be forgiven, would we let anything stand in the way? Perhaps we don’t realize this gift that is there for the taking? All we have to do is ask for God’s forgiveness and the only obstacle that stands in our way is our pride!

For us, the listeners today to this gospel story, we can take great comfort in the sure knowledge that this is how Jesus looks upon us - he sees within to the levels of intention and desire not to the outer trappings and history of any failure or limitation of ours.

While we are faithful and we try our best, we know we are not always worthy, but if we love we can all confidently wait in hope and longing for Jesus to say to us also "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

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