Sunday, June 12, 2016

Homily for Today's Mass

The greater the sinner who's sins are forgiven, the greater is the love that he shall display towards the Lord Jesus. Good morning my brothers and sisters in Christ. May I extend a warm welcome to the visitors who have joined our faith community on this day of the Lord.

As you may have noted, today's readings spoke of the necessity of repentance and forgiveness in order to receive the gift of salvation.

Reviewing the chain of events that led to today's First Reading from the Second Book of Samuel, verses 12:7-10, 13, one day, while David was walking about on the roof of the King's house, he saw a woman bathing. Failing to control his eyes, the sin of lust struck David to the heart. He sent someone to inquire as to who was the woman. The person reported that the woman was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. As a consequence of this grave sin of adultery, Bathsheba became pregnant.

Having already severed his relationship with God, David did not stop there. Desiring Bathsheba for himself, he engineered the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. When Uriah was killed, after having been placed in a deadly position during battle at the order of David, David brought Bathsheba to his house, married her, and she bore him a son.

Now the Lord God, He Who is all-knowing, was not blind to the lustful and murderous actions of David. God sent the prophet Nathan to pronounce judgment upon David. Because David repented of his sins, they were forgiven. But David still had to endure a punishment for the remission for his sins. His son, born through the adulteress affair, was taken away from his by the Lord.

Through today's First Reading, we learn that if an individual sincerely repents of his sins, God can and will forgive him of all his sins, even those of adultery and murder. God always seeks to call us back to faithfulness and fidelity to Him. Such is manifested by the grace of God. Without it, we could never repent and reconcile with God when we sin.

Today's Second Reading from the Letter to the Galatians began with the following words, "We know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ." [Gal. 2:16] When Paul said that a person is not justified by the works of the law, he was referring to the Mosaic Law and all its ceremonies, the different kinds of animal sacrifices and offerings for the forgiveness of sins. With the arrival of the Messiah, the Mosaic Law had become obsolete. No one could be saved by performing the works of the law, the ceremonial sacrifices of animals. Paul appealed to the conviction that was shared by him and Peter at the time of their conversions. Like them, other Jewish person had to realize their inability to achieve uprightness by the "deeds of the Laws."

When Paul referred to justification by faith, he was making reference to the necessary attitude of a person that includes the acceptance of the Divine revelation made known through Christ and the necessity for the individual to respond to it with complete dedication of his/her personal life to Christ.

Because the Christian has been crucified with Christ, it is no longer he who lives, but it is Christ who lives in him. This new status of justification of the Christian was not achieved because of good works; it was only made possible for him through his crucifixion with Christ. Crucified with Christ, the new Christian has died to the Law. Through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism, [Rom. 6:3] the Christian has been identified with the phases of Christ's passion, death, and resurrection. And so he can "live for God".

The perfection of the Christian life is expressed in these few words, "It is Christ who lives in me." [Gal. 2:20] This perfection is not merely an existence dominated by a new psychological motivation. Yet, it must eventually penetrate the individual's psychological awareness, so that he realizes in faith that his real life comes only from the redemptive and vicarious surrender of the Son of God. Faith in Christ does not substitute a new norm or goal of action. Rather it reshapes man anew internally, supplying his very new being with a new purpose in life that is moved by Christ Who lives in him.

Summarizing today's Second Reading, Paul tells us that when we are baptized, our faith transforms us. In Jesus, we become one with each other in the Body of Christ. Once a member of the Body of Christ, there is no social or religious distinctions, neither American or European, neither male or female, neither a child or a senior, neither white or black, neither rich or poor. All who have been baptized in Christ, they hold the same status, the same worth, the same value, no matter what they are or who they are. Equal in God's eyes and in His Kingdom, they all inherit the same glory.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 7:36-8:3] related to us the event concerning the penitent woman. The reading began with a Pharisee inviting Jesus to eat with him at his house. In consideration of the fact that the Pharisees usually displayed animosity towards Jesus, it was courageous for this one Pharisee to show hospitality by inviting Jesus to dinner.

In relating the event, the Evangelist Luke does not name the woman. He simply characterized her as a sinner (possibly a prostitute, or else a woman married to a man considered an outcast, like a publican). It appears that the woman intended simply to anoint the feet of Jesus with a fragrant myrrh, but as she leaned over, tears gushed forth, which she ingenuously wiped away with her long hair. Completely overcome, she repeatedly kissed his feet.

While Simon silently condemns Jesus for not divining the character of the woman, Jesus proves Himself to be a prophet by reading the secret throughts of Simon. Jesus then presented the parable of the two debtors to Simon, asking him, which person loved the creditor the greater, the one who owed five hundred denarii or the one who only owed fifty.

Comparing this parable to the woman, Jesus said, "Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." The verse "She has shown great love" has been a classic text for showing that perfect charity has the power of forgiving sins. The woman loved Jesus because her sins were forgiven, not that "she was forgiven because she loved Jesus."

Jesus makes it clear that great love springs from a heart that is forgiven and cleansed. From the First Letter of Peter, we read, "Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins." [1 Pet. 4:8] "For love is from God." [1 Jn. 4:7]

The opposing attitudes of Simon and the woman clearly show that we can either accept or reject the mercy of God. Simon viewed himself as an upright Pharisee, displaying an attitude of having no need for love or mercy. His self-sufficiency prevented him from acknowledging his need for the grace of God.

During the Gospel Reading, it was noticed that Jesus neither judged, nor rebuked the woman as the Pharisee expected. Instead, He welcomed her. This approach goes against the ways of the world; we are asked to model love instead of judging, to welcome instead of rejecting. Those who come in contact with Jesus, they manifest one of two behaviours; they are either attracted to Him or repelled by Him. If they are like Simon, they appear to be doing good deeds in order to gain respect, honour, fame or wealth. These persons shun the company of sinners like prisoners, beggars, prostitutes, etc... By doing so, they neglect to give sinners the help that they need to find healing and wholeness.

This week, let us examine our hearts. Do we invite Jesus in our lives for prestige? Or do we love Him because He is the one and only Saviour who has died for our sins?

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