GRACE. FORGIVENESS. LOVE


11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
June 19, 2013

GRACE, FORGIVENESS, LOVE

I was reminded of that movie some two years back: Eat, Pray, Love …  It is a story of a confused woman who went around the world trying to rediscover herself, and eventually came home to herself, and to relative peace of mind and heart by eating well in Italy, praying deeply in India, and finding what was supposed to be true love in Bali, Indonesia.

So, what does this have to do with today’s readings? Not much, you say? But my Catholic, sacramental imagination shows me some important connections … Allow me to explain …

Well, for a start, it was a woman that was behind the indiscretions of David. He wiggled his way to be able to do what he desired – and sinned – big time! Enough connection for you?

But the gospel speaks of another woman … confused? Probably! … sinful? Definitely! In search for something great and noble? Absolutely! There you have it! Connections galore!

But today, chauvinism is not my topic. Woman or man, servant or free, child or adult, Jew or Greek, Filipino or Indonesian … it doesn’t matter one wee bit. We all have fallen short of the glory of God. We all have sinned. Big time!

This is why I love the response … After getting convicted and being reminded just how wicked we all could be – whether woman or man – we all prayed: “Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.”

“I have sinned against the Lord!” That was David’s laconic understatement of the century! But laconic or not, David did tell the truth. He sinned big time and caused big trouble for Uriah, who even suffered an untimely death, for being an obedient soldier loyal to his King!

But today is not a day for us to gossip about David’s indiscretions. Today is not a day to glorify Aries Rufo’s “scoop” about the sins of the Fathers in the Philippine Church, never mind if the stories he says are old stories being rehashed one more time for the nth time. Today is not a day to focus on the sordid, the obvious, and no doubt pathetic and lamentable.

Today, the readings talk about grace. Today, the readings focus on forgiveness. Today, the readings pore on hope, as much on the pain of sin, as the possibility of grace and new life!

St. Paul puts it so nicely … a former persecutor, sinner and everything else in between, he now says with pride … “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me!”

That sinful woman with a flask of perfume in hand, was in search. I don’t know whether she was confused, but she definitely had focus. She knew what and whom to aim for. “She stood behind him,” the gospel says and began bathing the Lord’s feet with her tears, and wiping them with her hair. That has nothing to do with confusion, but with personal consternation for her own sins, for which she is now repenting! She must have sinned big time, to do something even bigger – to barge into a dinner party of the Lord and do the unthinkable!

Again, my Catholic, sacramental imagination runs wild … What could the chauvinist men of the times and of the place have thought and said?

Never mind the intrigues! Never mind the potential disbelief and surprise of whomever! Never mind the telenovela-like details of this surprising story!

Let’s focus on the great lesson of the story … the same lesson that David the big sinner learned, the same lesson that Paul, the big persecutor also learned, the same lesson that now this woman of ill-repute, but repentant as one could be, teaches us … the lesson that Pope Francis has been telling us since he became Pope … God never tires of forgiving us. It is us who tire of asking His forgiveness.

Sweet words of comfort, these are … as real as they are reassuring … “Your sins are forgiven” … “your faith has saved you; go in peace!”

Who needs to go to Italy, to India and to Bali? We can have them right here. Right now. Grace. Forgiveness. Love!

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