Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
April 21, 2013 Cycle C
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In today’s readings, we find three sinners: King David in the first reading, Saint Paul in the second reading and Mary Magdalene in the Gospel. We also find a man who thought that he was not a sinner, the Pharisee in the Gospel.

We each need to compare ourselves with the figures presented in the readings. Am I like the three sinners or am I like the Pharisee? What is my position before Jesus and his mercy? Today, let us compare ourselves to them.

In the first reading, the prophet Nathan points out the sin of King David. He had had one of his soldiers killed in order to take his wife, whom he had impregnated, thereby committing both adultery and murder. However, King David recognizes his sin and confesses it: "I have sinned against the Lord. I acknowledge my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I confess my faults to the Lord." Because of that, he is able to listen to the words of absolution, proffered by the minister of God: "The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice."

The Pharisee thought that he was a good man. He did not need Jesus. He did not understand who Jesus was. Why did he invite Jesus for dinner? Maybe he invited him out of mere curiosity or because Jesus was famous and he liked to be with important people. There was one thing for sure: he did not love Jesus. We understand this when Jesus says: "When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet […]. You did not give me a kiss […]. You did not anoint my head with oil […]. The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." The relationship that the Pharisee had with Jesus was formal and distant.

What was the Pharisee’s sin? Basically, it was the sin of pride. As Saint Paul describes in the second reading, the Pharisee thought he was justified by his own works. Justifying himself, he silenced the voice of his conscience. Nowadays, in a world that has lost the sense of sin, there is a great risk of justifying ourselves, how we live and act.

Mary Magdalene was full of love in her heart because she was forgiven. Her gesture toward Jesus was her answer to Jesus’ love. She was completely forgiven and now she wanted to acknowledge the grace received. The intensity of the expression of her love, her tears, her kisses and the perfume that she brought are symbols of what the human heart can do when healed by the infinite mercy of God.

King David, Saint Paul and Mary Magdalene had the experience of being loved by an infinite love. The forgiveness that they received filled them with immense gratitude. Saint Paul describes his own experience in these words: "I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me."

What distinguishes the three sinners from the Pharisee is just one thing: humility. Let us each ask ourselves on which side we are. On the side of King David, Paul and Mary Magdalene or on the side of the Pharisee?

There is a way to obtain an answer to this question, by asking ourselves when was the last time that we went to confession.

Through confession, we can experience the same forgiveness that the three sinners did. How often should we make confession? At the very minimum, at least once a year. However, at different moments in the history of the Church through private revelations, Jesus and Mary have invited us to make confession every month. I am convinced that it is not possible to progress toward a mature Christian life, to have a real experience of God’s mercy, if we do not make confession every month.

Let us ask for the grace of the experience of being loved by God. Let us ask for the grace of a humble heart able to be embraced by Jesus’ infinite love.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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