June 12, 2016 — Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Repentance and forgiveness are at the core of today’s readings on this Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. In a Church year, dependent upon how our holy seasons fall, there are 33 or 34 Sundays in Ordinary Time. Thus, on this Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, as difficult as it may seem to believe, we are one/third of the way through Ordinary Time. It is worth reiterating that for the Church and our time, the term “ordinary” does not mean “common.” It is based upon the term “ordinal” which means merely counted time.
It is good stewardship for us to know and understand the terms our Church utilizes. However, the important message for today is our understanding of repentance and forgiveness. In the First Reading from the Book of Second Samuel, David declares, “I have sinned against the Lord.” There are some significant aspects to David’s confession and repentance. In Hebrew, David actually said hata al-Yahweh, only two words. When Saul confesses, it is in great length and detail, but David’s confession is perhaps even more sincere and more effective in spite of its brevity.
David accepts total responsibility for his actions. He does not embellish it, and he makes no effort to find human excuses or rationalizations. Confessions do not need to be long, but they very much need to be honest and sincere. We must remember that David was a King; he might have tried to deflect what he had done, but he knew he was wrong in the eyes of God. The result is immediate forgiveness from the Lord. We need to face our own sinfulness; we need to confess it in the proper way; and then we need to understand that God is a forgiving God.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, from where our Second Reading comes, is dealing with a more complex matter. Paul knows that it is through faith and forgiveness that we are “justified.” Perhaps the most noteworthy statement Paul makes in this reading is the simple declaration “…yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” If each of us could find Christ within us, if we could fully grasp what that means, we, like Paul and David, could acknowledge our sinfulness, and seek the remedies the Church provides through repentance.
In our Gospel Reading from the Book of Luke, Jesus is confronted by a sinful woman. Others are offended that the Lord accepts this woman and does not condemn her or banish her. However, when they question Jesus’ response to her, the Lord offers a parable as an example of forgiveness. In explaining it to them Jesus says, “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then the Lord said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
God is indeed a forgiving God, but like David, we must first admit our sins, and then seek forgiveness. Too often we may admit our sins, but are hesitant to make our repentance in the proper and defined way. Jesus closes with the woman by saying “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” The absolute basis for her forgiveness was her faith. Jesus knew that her faith helped her believe Him when she heard the words “Your sins are forgiven.”
God is always ready to forgive us, but we need to find the humility and the obedience to seek and receive that forgiveness. Humility is such an important part of living stewardship as a way of life. It is that humility which allows us to see our weaknesses, and to know that it is only through a loving God that we can be forgiven, and thus strengthened.