June 16, 2013 –– Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Your sins are forgiven.” It sounds like a straightforward and simple statement, but when Jesus says it to the sinful woman in today’s Gospel, it becomes much more intense with a depth of meaning which is almost overwhelming.
Today’s readings tend to deal with sin, forgiveness, and redemption. We as Catholics may tend to downplay this aspect of our faith, but in truth it is in large part what our faith is all about. We are all sinners; we accept that. It is through Jesus’ saving grace that we can be freed from the burdens and consequences of those sins.
The first reading from 2 Samuel recounts the prophet Nathan confronting David with his sins, David’s repentance, and Nathan’s forgiveness of David. Oftentimes in scripture it is good to know the background of what is occurring. When Nathan faces David, David has been married to Bath-Sheba (Uriah’s wife) for a period of time as Solomon has already been born. Historical scholars have determined that David composed no prayers or psalms during that time. Once he is forgiven, however, he begins to write again and the first Psalm he composes is Psalm 51: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and open thou my lips.” Just as David needed to seek redemption, each of us needs to do the same through the sacrament of reconciliation.
As stewards of our faith, it is important for us to understand that there is a difference between confession and reconciliation. Confession is a part of reconciliation, but it does not suffice alone. It must be accompanied by conversion, repentance, and celebration. It is not enough to simply list our sins; we are challenged to go deeper and to address sinfulness — the cause of our sins.
The Gospel from Luke tells the story of a sinful woman who enters the house of the Pharisee Simon so she can honor Jesus and seek His forgiveness for her sins. Simon questions Jesus from a couple perspectives: first, he wonders if Jesus could truly be a prophet if Christ did not know about this woman — that she was a sinner and He should have nothing to do with her; second, the concept of reconciliation and forgiveness is not easy for him to grasp.
The basic theme of the Gospel might be stated: “Those who are forgiven most love most.” It is valuable for us to understand the deeper meaning in this Gospel, the real stewardship message. There are three main characters — Jesus, the Pharisee, and the woman. The Lord offers us the stewardship example to which we should aim. The Pharisee is judgmental; Jesus is gracious, loving, and forgiving. That is the life to which we are called as stewards: to love one another, to focus on today’s reconciliation, not on the sins of the past.