教区管理者 APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR
Sermon for Confirmation at Kitaurawa Church
|Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time|
First Reading: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
Second Reading: Galatians 2:16, 19-21
Gospel Reading: Luke 7:36-8:3
It’s the eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time today, and we’re also celebrating the Confirmation at the Mass.
The Gospel from Luke I have just proclaimed best indicates the spirit of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and I believe it is very beneficial to those of you who are about to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
You’ve just heard how the story goes. Now, if this happened right in front of your eyes, how would you feel and what would you think about it? It would unfold a very dramatic and vivid scene. The very last words Jesus said to this woman were: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
How blessed would we be if we could accept these same words of Jesus as those he is personally speaking to each of us.
Today let us accept this story as an actual event exactly as written in Luke’s Gospel and savor it together.
The Gospel doesn’t tell us where it took place, but it could be in Capernaum, a town in Galilee where Jesus was mainly ministering. It did take place at a house of a Pharisee named Simon. He invited Jesus to dinner. Unlike our modern manner, they would recline on their sides and eat with the right hand what are served.
The reputation of Jesus must have been spread around the region of Galilee and its surroundings. There was a woman who was known as a sinner. What did a “sinner” mean? Many people thought she was a prostitute. People around her thought she was living a life of sin. She herself was probably aware that what she was doing every day sins against God. And she might have heard about Jesus and his stories, or she might have been among the crowd while Jesus was teaching and preaching. Obviously at this point, this woman knew Jesus. She had heard God’s love Jesus had been telling.
We’re now celebrating the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. Jesus taught us to be merciful and compassionate just as our heavenly Father is merciful. The heavenly Father is invisible, and yet he became visible in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” said Jesus to Philip. It was most likely this Jesus’ high reputation in his words and deeds that led the woman to have faith, expectation, or hope that someone so sinful as herself can be forgiven, healed, and redeemed by God’s mercy.
When she somehow got information that Jesus would dine with Simon, she slipped into Simon’s house, drew close to Jesus, and made an extreme, extraordinary, and stunning move as you have just heard.
She wept, bathed the feet of Jesus with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. These are quite surprising behaviors to do in public. While the people were really surprised, Jesus let her do so, accepting everything she did for him.
Simon the Pharisee, who hosted the dinner, could not sit still for such a scene. And yet he held his tongue and thought to himself, “I can’t stand this! How could he allow this sinful woman to perform those indecent acts on himself? How could he call himself a prophet?” Jesus seems to have read Simon’s mind immediately.
As I see it, this woman had already known about Jesus before she met him directly. He had been preaching the love of the merciful God. She must have been thinking to herself: “I am a woman with a shameful job that makes me an object of contempt, and have been made into an outcast by everyone, but God cares for a woman like me and forgives me.” The thought enabled her to dare to perform that surprising acts.
Are we forgiven because we loved? Are we forgiven because we loved God? Do we love God because we were forgiven? Or are they all mixed together?
When you look more closely at today’s Gospel, both interpretations exist separately. One interprets that, judging from the fact that this woman is so grateful and Jesus declares her sins were forgiven, she was forgiven because she loved God. The other interprets that the woman trusted God’s mercy, believed even a person like her could be loved, accepted, and forgiven, and expressed her faith with gratitude to Jesus through her own actions. It concludes that she had already owed him deep sense of gratitude, which would move her to do those outlandish behaviors. Therefore, this woman had already been forgiven by then. She did those things as a sign of gratitude, trusting she had already been forgiven. That’s why Jesus said, “Her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Paul also believed his great sins have been forgiven.
It’s not that God doesn’t love us unless we love him. We were the ones that didn’t know how to love God and could never love him. However, just as described in the First Letter of St. John, we knew love because God first loved us, not because we first loved God. It is not until we are loved that we know what love is. It is not until we experience love that we can communicate that love to others and give thanks to God for it.
We’re now celebrating the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus the tax collector, and many more including this sinful woman came to know through Jesus that God loves them, forgives them, and accept them as someone precious to Him. They became the communicators of their gratitude to pass on to many people, built the Church, and became the foundation of our Church.
Today you’re receiving the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Confirmation. It is my sincere wish that you be touched again by the truth that God is merciful, that you commit yourself to communicating and expressing His mercy to people by letting the grace of the Holy Spirit grow every day of your lives, and that you know God’s mercy more deeply and become the communicators of God’s mercy by not only praying alone but praying together with your brothers and sisters who believe in the same God, that is, your Christian friends.
[All the Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition (NRSVCE), copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]