Gospel Reflection: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

JUNE 12, 2016

Alleluia, Alleluia.

God loves us and sent his Son

as expiation for our sins.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

 

The Gospel according to Saint Luke 7: 36-50

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.  Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.  Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears.  Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.  “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred day’s wages and the other owed fifty.  Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for bothWhich of them will love him more?”  Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”  He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.  So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

 He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”  But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

This Sunday’s Gospel is a story of spiritual contrasts.  Once again, Saint Luke presents Jesus as the divinely inspired prophet who uses as examples two dramatically different persons: a self-possessed Pharisee and a sinful woman.

Jesus is invited to dine in the house of Simon, the Pharisee, but this host does not provide the expected acts of hospitality that would make a guest welcome.  In the time and place of this Gospel story, a host would welcome his guests with words and kisses of peace, water for the washing of the guest’s feet, and finally, olive oil mixed with spices for the anointing of the guest’s head.   These were expected gestures of hospitality offered to every guest, and since Simon suspected that Jesus was a prophet that would have added to the reason for providing these acts of respect.

In bold contrast, Saint Luke provides a sinful woman as an image of every repentant sinner.  It is obvious that she recognizes the uniqueness of Jesus and provides for him, not only acts of hospitality but manifestations of great love and repentance.  Unlike the Pharisee who is unsure of Jesus’ identity, the woman knows well that Jesus is a prophet and a source of divine healing, and she actively seeks Jesus out with a planned rite of repentance: Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment.

One cannot help but think of an earlier episode in this same Gospel of Luke in which Jesus declared that: I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners (Luke 5: 32).  This Pharisee seems to be a living example of one who cannot recognize the Divine physician in his midst, and does not realize the fact that he himself is a sick sinner and in need of healing.

Jesus confronts stubborn Simon, first by a parable and then in a more direct way. Simon gets the parable, but in order to be sure that Simon does not miss the connection to the present situation, Jesus emphatically asks Simon: Do you see this woman?  It is, as if to say: Do you see that this woman is the one who has shown great love.  And, then Jesus proclaims: her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.

Two weeks ago, we heard in Saint Luke’s Gospel that Jesus healed a man near death; last week we heard that Jesus revived a dead man, and now we see Jesus forgiving sins.  While others in the story remain confused as to the identity of Jesus, we join with the sinful woman and acknowledge that Jesus is the divine source of healing, forgiving and life eternal!  Your faith has saved you, Jesus said to the woman; it is our faith in Jesus as the Divine Mercy that saves us from our sins and promises us eternal life!

Should we then not imitate the sinful woman and actively seek out Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  And, should we not come to the Eucharistic table with tears of repentance, kisses of love, and willingness to anoint Jesus as Lord of Life!

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

 

 

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