Jun 11, 2016

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The recent massacre of fifty young people and the injury of countless others in Orlando, Florida, has rightly provoked us to turn to God in prayer. It is a cause of much anguish and even anger.  It drives home the reality that as our world is becoming more saturated with the evil of rage, violence and blatant disregard for the beauty and purpose of God's gift of life, we cannot help but feel afraid and vulnerable. 

The reason we have been gifted with life is so that we might have the time to search for, find and know God as our merciful and loving Father.  To rob anyone of their opportunity to fully realize this ultimate goal is to collaborate in the work of evil which wants only to divide and distract us away from union with God. 

To all our brothers and sisters who met an untimely death, it is up to us, while acknowledging our own sins and unworthiness, to pray to our merciful and compassionate God on their behalf and for their families and friends. Added to this, Our Lord reminds us through the example he uses of the Good Samaritan, we have a duty to help heal wounds and look after the injured, the forgotten and abandoned, and hopefully at the expense of our own personal prejudices and despite cultural differences.  

Today's Gospel message should help us, once again, examine our own conscience before God.

Gospel: Luke 7:36-50  Humility and Mercy Meet

Psalm 32, which we responded to, captures beautifully the central message of the Readings and the Gospel this morning. The psalmist declares, “I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the LORD,’ and you took away the guilt of my sin.”

Let us look at who is who in the Gospel passage we have just listened to. First, there is Jesus, who has accepted the invitation to dinner from an important religious official by name of Simon the Pharisee.  If we read the Gospel accounts of his life, it would seem that Our Lord was never shy of accepting invitations from anyone.  One might be tempted to think that our Lord kept away from nice restaurants or fine dining, so that he could be with the poor all the time. But, Christ was with the poor all the time.

Simon the Pharisee was poor, not in material things, not from what he had or had not in his refrigerator or stored in his garage.  Simon was lacking in other necessities of life. He might have lacked compassion, gentleness, and patience. Maybe, he was one of those people who had all the nice things in life, enjoyed good company, good food and even prided himself in the nicer way of praying, all the eloquences and ritual, but without much depth.  Even Christ himself, was probably for him, just a holy picture, nice to look at and more of a conversation piece.

Then everything is disrupted by the intrusion of this woman of ill repute. She barges into the dinner, disrupting everything, sending everyone into a panic – except Jesus. She goes straight to Jesus.  By doing so, it seems she knows who Jesus is. She has done her homework.  She does not target our Lord because she wants to make a point. Something much deeper is going on inside her mind, indeed her heart.  When Christ would preach out in the open, in the towns and cities, she must have secretly listened to his words. Even when she hid in a crowd of hundreds, she allowed Christ’s words, his presence to reach her.  Now she was responding, reaching out to Christ.

For she was the type of person who was very much like Simon the Pharisee.  Simon might have endeared himself to others through his social position and through his eloquent dinner table; this woman of ill repute endeared herself to others also through seduction of the senses and lustful appetites. Both the woman and the man, even though coming from two different angles share the same vulnerability – “looking for love in all the wrong places”.

But the woman, who no doubt lived a life of vulnerability, allowed herself, trusted herself, in the safe hands of Christ. Only in Christ presence, can our love be purified, made real.  Only in the light of God do we see the truth of how we seek to love and be loved and of how often we miss the mark, get distracted and often chase after sentimentalism or extravagance in its place.

Christ wants us to find a way into his heart. His heart is always open, waiting, longing to be united with our own. This demands on our part, self-reflection, humility, the courage to see ourselves truly as we are and not to be like Adam and Eve who, after sinning, hid and covered themselves up.

Acknowledge our sins and to do so before the Lord, “is the movement of a “contrite heart” (Psalm 51:19) drawn by divine grace to respond to the merciful love of God” (Comp. CCC 300).

In short, regardless of the depravity of our sins or the lavishness of our lives, let us listen to the Lord from the depth of our heart, so that we might acknowledge truly our sins, confess our faults to him, trust in his guidance and allow him to lead us to the freedom that brings us peace of mind, body and soul.

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