Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
At her trial, Joan of Arc was asked: “Are you in God’s grace?”…. “It is an enormous thing to answer such a question,” replied Joan. “Yes, it is an enormous thing,” replied one of the magistrate’s assistants, Fabri the theologian…. “Are you in His grace?” repeated the interrogator. “If I am not, may God place me there! And if I am there already, may God keep me” (firstname.lastname@example.org, May 30, 2010).
Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, because even if they knew the law, they had no consideration or mercy regarding non-observance of the law, and they would not even lift a finger to help the little ones and the weak. Simon, who invited Jesus to dine with him at his house, was a Pharisee and was not different from them. He certainly was not different from the conceited Pharisee who, with a judgment, prayed in the Temple, along with a tax collector, and said, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income” (Lk 18:11-12). Simon the Pharisee also judged Jesus and the woman. And the woman, who cried at the feet of Jesus, did not even think conceitedly of Jesus, neither did she look at Jesus immodestly, or talked arrogantly. Remorseful and regretful of all her wrongdoings, all that she did was to stay close to Jesus.
Here, judgment and salvation started. Simon, the Pharisee did not perform what the Jewish custom required when receiving visitors, but the woman was silent, cried and tried to show her love and repentance. The woman was forgiven her sins and went home in the peace that Jesus gave, while Simon had to recover from his shame of self-righteousness.
Our readings today teach us the following:
1. When we are not content with what we have and with who we are because we have lost our sense of gratitude, we look for people to judge and to pin down in their littleness. Things of the world are placed by God where they are for our use and for the good of society. They are not to be abused. God gave us our families and our neighbors so that we may grow in holiness and in awareness of the Divine Presence, and have companions in joy, in sorrow and in difficulties. But many times people would think, decide and act as if they were gods, like:
– in some countries like ours, people would adopt highways, dogs and cats, but would abort human babies;
– many establish families, but for convenience, leave or break them;
– God put great dignity in work so that we can live by our means, but many go for fast and easy money to feed their whims even in ways not acceptable by society;
– and many more.
Abusive, sophisticated and extravagant living scandalizes the simple ones who live according to their means and have respect for the dignity of work and those who have no means to live decently. In God’s anger, He said to David regarding his abuse of power and the blessings he received: “if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more” (2Sam 12:8).
2. Our life is God’s. He wants us to live it according to His will, so that our joy may be complete. But we have abused life. We live as if everything depended on us and as if everything that we have is ours. We also think that everything we can and like to do is unstoppable. God wants to reign in our hearts for He knows that without Him we can do nothing. He gave us the Church, the Sacraments and our families that we may grow in His love. With God’s gifts, selfishness and indifference have no place in His Kingdom.
3. Our religiosity is a gift and does not depend on us, but on God, for He teaches, guides and protects us, as well as provides for us. We get so complicated in life though, that we complain about things that we do not like, and we complain about people for being different from us and for not conforming to our ways. We even carry this sensitivity with our relationship with God. We think that only when we need God should He come and interfere. So we call Him when the tide goes against our plans and when times do not seem to be kind to us.
Today, let us join David when He said: “I have sinned against the LORD” (2Sam12:13), so that God will be pleased to forgive us. Let us be convinced as St. Paul was, that the Lord loves us. He said, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me…. I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). With Mother Mary, in gratitude and humility, as we partake of the Eucharist, let us commit ourselves again to Jesus, and accept Him in our hearts, so that He can proclaim to us: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Lk 7:50). Then, we will have the strength to serve His people and continue to walk in the ways of the Lord.