11TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
Luke 7:36 - 8:3
How do we measure our love for God? Can it be quantified by size, amount or degree of any instrument or standard?
David was the greatest king Israel could ever have and yet he was a sinner, adulterous and a murderer. His greatness lies in the immensity of his heart that could accept his utter nothingness and sinfulness before God. In return he loved God like no other Israelite king for the rest of his life.
The woman in the gospel this Sunday is also an epitome of greatness despite her sinfulness in the sight of a judging, unfriendly and restraining society. Her bold actions which almost subverted the established norm of her time caught the attention of the Pharisees. As she wept she wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Such boldness and fearlessness to express her enormous and overflowing gratitude! Why would she do that in the sight of a community that condemned her sinfulness? Where did she get such courage to express herself openly in an unforgiving male-dominated world? She did all that because she was first loved and was forgiven by Jesus! She was not justified by what she did but by what Jesus had done to her in a previous experience of love and forgiveness. Now was the opportune time to give back to Jesus. But it was not just a simple “paying off” in expressing her love and generosity. She exposed herself openly to risk, rejection and contempt in the sight of pretenses and righteousness of the Pharisees. In appreciation of what she did, the four evangelists immortalized her in the four gospels although she was unknown by name.
When we come as an individual believer and as a community of Jesus’ disciples in the Eucharistic celebration, how much do we express our generosity? We look up to David and the woman in the gospel as models of overflowing generosity. Like them we are all sinners in varying degrees. And like them, we too are also beneficiaries of the mercy and forgiveness of God.
We come to the Eucharist in order to acknowledge our need for forgiveness. In the beginning of the mass, we are reminded of our state of unworthiness so we beat our breasts as we say we are sorry to God and to each other. We confess that we are sinners like the rest of the congregation and ask each one present to pray for us. We bring down our pretenses and righteousness in humility knowing that we are no better than anyone else in the community. We open our vulnerability before the forgiven and forgiving community.
We come to the Eucharist like the woman in the gospel, everyday and especially on Sundays, as an expression of our gratitude to God like a beggar towards his/her benefactor. Before the feet of our Master, like the woman in the gospel we boldly express our love to Jesus through our active, full and conscious participation in the liturgical actions of the mass.
In the sight of a super-generous God, we humbly accept that everything we have and are come from Him.
Should we not be forgiving to others just as we are forgiven? Should we not be givers just as we are all receivers of the gifts we have?