Sunday, June 12, 2016

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time: God is Merciful

Today's readings are perfect for the Holy Year of Mercy which we are in.

In the first reading, we read of Nathan reminding David that God gave him everything. He was anointed king of Israel etc, but David sinned.  He killed Uriah the Hittite and took his wife (2 Samuel 11).  David "sinned against the Lord." Despite all David did, "The Lord on His part" forgave David. Here we see how merciful God is.  The Lord forgives all wrongs as we read in the Psalm for today (Isaiah 43:25-26).  God is merciful. There is no sin He will not forgive unless it is the sin against the Holy Spirit which is the sin of not asking for forgiveness or accepting it (Isaiah 1:18, Mark 3:28-30). Those who are forgiven by God are blessed indeed, as the Psalm states. We confess our faults to the Lord via the priest, and He forgives them. However, in order to be forgiven, we have to have faith as the second reading tells us.

St. Paul says that we are justified by faith and not by the works of the law. He is not supporting the view of 'Sola Fide.' Here he is referring to the works of the law or the rites the Jews had regarding cleaning of sin. The Jews believed that these 'works' cleansed them from sin; however, it is faith in Christ that paves the way to justification as we work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12). Faith alone does not cut it (James 2:14-26). We have to put that faith into practice as well.  St. Paul then uses the words that I use as a motto: "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me." These words spoke loudly to my as I transitioned from atheism to theism. I literally did die in Christ and want only Christ to live in me. This is why I use the 'Chi Rho' symbol on my social media accounts. I want to convey the imagery that I want Christ to live in me and do this work in me. I do not want to become some Catholic celebrity speaker type of figure. Instead, I want to remain hidden as Christ does whatever He wants in me. We must try to be like this and have only Christ living in us. As the woman who used her tears to wipe Christ's feet, we must be humble and always seeking mercy.

In today's Gospel, we read of Jesus accepting the invitation to dine with a Pharisee. As they make themselves comfortable, a woman comes to Jesus. This woman is a known sinner. She learned that Jesus was at the house of the Pharisee and made sure to go see Him. The woman brought a flask of ointment and cried behind him. Her tears fell on Jesus' feet. She used her hair to dry His feet and even kissed His feet.  The Pharisee who invited Jesus was offended at the sight.  A sinner, nor less a woman show go to a prophet, he complained!  Jesus then tells him a parable of a creditor forgiving the debts of two men. One man had a larger debt then the other.  Jesus asks the Pharisee which one was more content with the 'write-off' and loved the creditor more and the Pharisee says the one with the most debt.  Here Jesus is saying that the sinner who has a "larger debt" loves God more because of God's mercy. Then Jesus says that the woman appreciated Him more than the Pharisee. If the Pharisee really loved Jesus and was serious about his faith, He would have done what the woman did. This Gospel should remind us that God is merciful towards all, especially the worst of sinners.

Unfortunately, there are some in the Christian faith who think they have earned God's favor and judge others. These are the modern day Pharisees. They think that their rituals of daily Mass, Rosaries and the like give them a certain status over others who are not so pious (Matthew 6:5). In reality, these are vain actions that mean nothing before God. We must be sincere like the woman who approached Jesus. She did not meet Him "face to face," so to speak; rather, she met Him at His feet.  Like Jesus, we must be merciful towards others and not judge them (Matthew 5:7, Matthew 7:1). Whether they are women who proudly shout their abortions, the proud offensive gays at a parade, the man dressing up like a woman or just someone who was rude and nasty to us, we must be merciful towards them. We must use our Christian example to bring them to come to Jesus' feet asking for forgiveness.  May Jesus Christ be praised!




Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061216.cfm

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