Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 12, 2016
Fr. Josť Maria Alvim Cortex, F.S.C.B.

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ďI live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for meĒ (2:20). With this sentence, St. Paul tells us that to be Christian means to be certain of Godís love for us. This experience changes our lives. As we experience Godís love, we recognize our sinfulness. We realize that we are far from God and need to purify ourselves.

Todayís first reading tells us how David sinned. The greatest king of Israel, a model of all virtue and wisdom, committed adultery with the wife of one of his bravest soldiers, Uriah the Hittite. David used his regal power to force that poor woman to submit to him. Then, in order to cover his sin, he had Uriah killed in battle and took the woman as his wife. Davidís sin shows us that man has a dark side. As human beings, we are wounded at a deep level by original sin. There is a brokenness in us that can lead us to do bad things when we forget God and use our freedom in the wrong way. The prophet Nathan revealed Davidís sin. What did David do? He did not try to justify himself. He acknowledged his sin and asked for absolution, saying: ďI have sinned against the LORDĒ (Sam 12:13).

In todayís Gospel, we heard the moving story of a sinful woman who washed Jesusí feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. The sight of a public sinner kissing Jesusí feet and anointing them with perfume scandalized Simon the Pharisee. Jesus says that her great love had absolved her of many sins: ď[Ö] her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great loveĒ (Lk 7:47). This passage reminds us of a very important gift: the gift of tears. Many saints talk about this gift from God. The Holy Spirit inspires profound commotion in our souls. Our tears are  tears of joy because we experience Godís infinite love for us and tears of sorrow because we are unworthy of that love and far from God. It is necessary to purify our hearts.

The Pharisee did not understand the sinful womanís gesture. He had received Jesus in his house but had not welcomed him openheartedly. The Pharisee knew neither Godís love nor himself. He thought he was virtuous by his own efforts and was full of pride, the root of all sin. He did not realize that his soul had a dark side because Godís light had still not illuminated his heart. Our sinfulness is revealed when Jesusí gaze falls upon us. Simon was not aware of his brokenness because he was full of himself. He was afraid of accepting the reality of his nature, as if the acknowledgement of his limitations would have been unbearable.

How different was Saul the Pharisee, who who became Paul the Apostle. In todayís second reading, Paul testifies about his conversion. He had been a fanatic and a killer of Christians but suddenly encountered a love greater than everything, which completely transformed him. St. Paul says toward the end of his life: ďI have been crucified with Christ, yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I live in the flesh. I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for meĒ (Gal 2:20).

We are celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy. This year is a special time to experience Godís love. May the example of King David, the sinful woman and St. Paul help us conquer our pharisaic attitude, which prevents us from accepting our imperfection, , our brokenness and our sinfulness.

Christian life is the path to the conversion of the heart. Our pride must be conquered by Godís mercy. We are self-centered instead of being God-centered. Although we are far from God, He is close to us.

Let us pray that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a time to experience Godís love. May this celebration encourage us to go to confession more often. May the experience of being loved and forgiven fill our hearts with joy and peace.

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