June 12 2016 (C) Eleventh Sunday of Year
A. The Bible as Guide in Life and Liturgy (Sunday Readings)
B. Reflection & Dialogue:
First Reading (2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13). The Lord forgives your sin; you are not to die. This passage is read in today’s liturgy because it speaks of a king’s sin, his repentance and of divine forgiveness, as background to the Gospel reading. In its biblical setting it is the ending of a very honest narrative of King David’s behaviour. His army was fighting the Ammonites at their capital Ammon (present-day Amman). David remained in his palace in Jerusalem. One afternoon from the roof he saw a beautiful woman bathing. She was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s soldiers. David invited her to his palace and had intercourse with her. She became pregnant and informed David. David saw to it that Uriah fell in battle. After due mourning David took Bathsheba as his wife. Externally it all looked in order, unknown to anybody. But not in God’s sight. God sent the prophet Nathan to David to make clear to him the gravity of his sin. David humbly admits his guilt, and is pardoned by God. The Penitential Psalm 50(51) has in the Bible and earlier Christian tradition been viewed as David’s prayer for forgiveness for this his sin.
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 31). Forgive, Lord, the guilt of my sin.
Second Reading (Galatians 2:16, 19-21). I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. Paul as a convert from Judaism is here addressing Peter or Jews in general. In any case he is contrasting observance of the Jewish law with faith in Christ, or salvation through diviner grace. By faith in Christ Jesus he does not mean just an act of the intellect or will but the acceptance of the death and resurrection of Christ as the God’s saving plan of salvation. Righteousness is the inner transformation of the person through God’s Holy Spirit. It can not come about by obedience to the Jewish law but through faith in Jesus Christ and all this implies. Paul stresses this point by some repeated statements. His statement “through the Law I am dead to the law”, so that I can now live for God, is so laconic as to be obscure. It may mean that through the Jewish law Jesus was condemned to death and crucified, and thus ended the role of the Jewish law. Christian life is union with the death and the resurrection of Christ. Paul, and all believers in Christ, has died to the law to live for God in and with Christ. Paul, mystically, has died with Christ and this his faith governs all his Christian life on earth (“in this body”). Belief in the mystery of Christ’s death on the cross and the union with God which this brings about (that is “justification”) means that it is the mystery of Christ’s death, not the Jewish law, which justifies.
The Gospel (Luke 7:36-8:3). Her many sins have been forgiven, or she would not have shown such great love. This anointing of Jesus resembles that at Bethany, which the other Gospels connect with Jesus’ Passion (Mat 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8), but has a completely different purpose, one of conversion and pardon. This episode is another masterpiece from Luke, scribe of the gentleness of Jesus, on Jesus’ concern for the outcast and his gentle remonstration on one who is too judgemental. The setting is one of friendly relations between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus is invited to a meal by a Pharisee, indicating friendship. Luke is the only one of the evangelists to show a certain friendliness between the Pharisees and Jesus, by inviting him to a meal (here; 11:37; 14:1), and possibly advising him to avoid the schemes of Herod Antipas (13:31). The houses offering meals seem to be rather open to the public, allowing non-invited guests to enter. The guests reclined at the meals, allowing the woman easy access to Jesus’ feet. The woman had a bad name in the town, why is not stated. She is not described as a prostitute. She has heard of Jesus’ friendliness to tax collectors and sinners and has come in to
the house to show her affection for him. Perhaps the news that Jesus was dining with a Pharisee, at the latter’s invitation, had caused something of a sensation, as the person of the Pharisee is mentioned a number of times. Simon’s reservations on Jesus friendship with public sinners is understandable, from the point of view of a Pharisee and many others. Jesus compares the woman’s behaviour with his guest, Simon’s own. He is not accusing Simon of discourtesy. Apart possibly from the feet washing the other stated actions would not have been expected of a host. Jesus’ point in the parable, and otherwise, is to contrast the love of the woman with that of others, for instance Simon. After this comes Jesus’ statement on the connection between the love of the woman and the forgiveness of her sins. One possibility is that te woman has been forgiven because of her love; the other that he great love proves that her many sins have been forgiven. In either case Jesus declares that her sins have been forgive, which has the guests rise a question on Jesus’ identity, as one who can forgive sins.
Today’s reading passes beyond the episode of the anointing to resume Jesus’ ministry and note the contribution made by women in this work, all apparently healed of certain diseases by Jesus. Three are mentioned by name: Mary of Magdala, healed of seven illnesses, of a severe nature; Joanna the wife of a steward of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, a woman of social standing. Both will be later mentioned at the tomb. The third Susanna is otherwise unknown. These women provided financial, as well as moral, support to Jesus and his work.
B. Reflection & Dialogue: