Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 2010

13 June 2010

2 Samuel 12: 7-10,13
Galatians “:16, 19-21
Luke 7:36-8:3

Jesus always sees things as they really are; we don’t. We generally see things from our own point of view. We pick and choose the bits we want to see, or believe. And so we live our daily lives with a distorted and incomplete knowledge of ourselves, of others and, of God.

One of the ways we do this is by giving everything a title or a label. And we can then relate to people in accordance with the label we’ve assigned to them.

The first reading is the story of Nathan telling King David about a rich man, who had a huge herd of sheep, decides he wants the one lamb that someone else owns. David expresses his anger that such a thing should happen in his kingdom. And Nathan’s reply: ‘But YOU are that man!’ “You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, taken his wife for your own, and killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” (2 Sam 12:9)

King David was badly caught, and it was his own fault. Nathan showed David the reality of the situation of what he had done. David had a different reality, according to his way of seeing things. But, to his credit, David acknowledged he had done wrong. I have sinned against the Lord.

God was pleased that David acknowledged his sin. What he did was terrible, but his immediate repentance pleased God.

Maybe you don’t feel so good in the presence of God, because of the way you live your life today or because of some situation in the past. Well, the readings today give us a lesson that no matter how bad things might be between us and God, we are always welcomed back. St Peter also failed but he too acknowledged his denials of Christ and he was still chosen by Christ to lead the Church. St Paul was no great shakes before that famous “fall from a horse”.

No matter how often I sin, I can always turn back. That does not mean that I can sin and then say ‘sorry’ and then go back to sinning again. Remember the woman caught in adultery: ‘Has no one condemned you’ asked Jesus of the woman. ‘No one, sir’ she replied. And his loving response: ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go!’ but then he adds the key bit: ‘But do not sin again.’

In the Gospel story, Simon the Pharisee was probably unaware that inviting Jesus to eat with him was going to lead to a major change in his life. The woman who ministered to him was a known sinner. Simon was horrified to see this sinner touching Jesus, weeping on his feet and drying them with her hair. All Simon could see was the fact that she was a woman of ill repute, but Jesus could see the truth behind the woman who was at his feet.

Simon had another label which he used quite easily: good name, bad name… The woman had a bad name and Simon believed he had a good name. Jesus too had a good name and shouldn’t be associating with such a woman, as Simon saw it.

Am I guilty of imitating Simon in my relationships? Do I relate to others by the labels already ascribed to them, by society in general or by me in particular?

When Jesus speaks to Simon about sin, forgiveness, love etc he is inviting Simon to move beyond his set views / labels and open himself up to looking at others (in this case, the woman) in a new light. Jesus wants Simon to look at the woman as Jesus does.

The Gospel doesn’t tell us how Simon responded. Did he take a step back and look at things in a new, Christ-like, way? Did he let go of his prejudices?

The same Jesus who invited Simon to let go of the labels he lived with is the same Jesus who invites us today to look afresh at the world around us. And remember the label we have on ourselves – the false face we present to others – does not fool God. And even with our disfigured self, God still loves us. So why can’t you love others as God loves you?

Martin Kavanagh SMA, 11 June 2010

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