Friday, June 15, 2007

Sunday, June 17 ~ Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 7:36 - 8:3

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?" "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag'dalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joan'na, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion
Reread this poignant passage and put yourself in the story. Try to picture it all in your mind, using all of your senses to actually be present at that time in history. Put yourself as either one of the characters or an observer. Do this before reading further.
When I was in college, I was instructed by a spiritual director to read various Scripture stories and place myself at the scene. It is often recommended that we meditate in this way with the Passion of Christ, trying to use all of our senses to be present at that time - the smells, the feel of it, the sounds, the sights, etc... If you have never done this, try it.
My meditation on this particular passage, though, has always stuck with me. For when I read it, I was the woman washing Our Lord's feet with my tears and drying them with my hair. It was overwhelming to be (in my mind) physically present before Jesus Christ, and I could not just stand by and watch this woman's gesture. I had to participate.
The Lord so gently and generously embraces this woman's act of kindness. He understands that she is humbling herself before him, in spite of and because of her sins, which are many. How do I humble myself before the Lord? Do I force my will to bow to His Almighty Power? Am I prideful and presumptuous about my salvation?
My sins are many. Am I confident they have been forgiven? Do I love Jesus accordingly? What gestures of love do I need to make to the Lord today? This passage names several women who repented and followed Christ, and it is notable that very few women are named in the Gospels. I imagine these sinners turned disciples as strong women for this humility, not weak. Often our culture suggests that humility is weakness. How have I seen strength in humility? Do I resist being humble because of this misconception? In what ways do I need to humble myself?
On Father's Day, let us also reflect on the roles our men have in our lives and our duty to love them with such humble adoration. Our fathers require our respect. Our husbands require our submission. Our Heavenly Father requires our obedience. How well do I honor these men with my humble love? How can I erase any pride on my part from these relationships?