Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 7: 36 – 8:3
Both the first reading from the Book of Samuel and the Gospel of John for today’s Liturgy treat of the forgiveness of God. If our God were not a forgiving God, our lives would be nothing but endless resentments and revenge. Jesus in the Gospels invites us, challenges us, to let all this go and forgive whoever harms us.
In the first reading, David owns up to his sin in seeing to it that Uriah the Hittite was done away with so David could have his wife Bathsheba. The Lord sent Nathan to confront David with his sin and David repented of what he had done: “I have sinned against the Lord,” he admitted to Nathan. And Nathan then answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin; you shall not die.”
In the Gospel, a sinful woman crashes a Pharisees dinner party to which Jesus had been invited. She had an alabaster flask of ointment with which she anointed his feet after having washed them with her tears and drying them with her hair. Because of her great love, Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace”.
The joy of having been forgiven opens our heart to greater loving on our part. I have experienced this, if I may make a long story short. Shortly after I entered Guest House in Lake Orion, MI, for treatment of the disease of alcoholism, I returned to the parish where I was pastor to tell the people where I was and why and to ask their forgiveness for my alcoholic behavior. I was scared to death. I had no idea how the people would respond. After I said what I had prepared, they all stood and clapped and welcomed me back as their pastor. I can’t remember a more joyful experience in my whole life. There were many tears shed that day and their forgiveness served to make me a better pastor than ever for them.
Our God is a forgiving God. To see this all we have to do is read the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the 15th chapter of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 15: 11-32). The father in the Parable, representing God, forgave the prodigal son his sin. He let it go completely and in doing so restored the son’s position in the family to him as though nothing had happened. He does the same for us. All we have to do is be repentant, approach the Lord in truth and humility, admitting our sin, and he will forgive us. He lets go of our offenses; they cease to have existence.
How blessed we are to have such a forgiving God. Thank you, God, for the many, many times you have forgiven us. Help us to love you more and more.
Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mt. 5: 38-42
Our daily Gospels for this Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time pick up where we left off last week in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. The subject matter continues to be the antitheses. Today’s Gospel has Jesus saying to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.”
This follows up on what we said yesterday about forgiveness. Revenge and retaliation have no place in the life of a disciple of the Lord. Jesus also challenges us in today’s Gospel to go the extra mile with our offending neighbor. We are to go out of our way, overlooking the hurt, to love them even more. It takes a really special person to do this and that pretty much describes a disciple of Jesus: We are a special people.
Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mt. 5: 43-48
Today’s Gospel gives us the sixth and final antithesis: We are to love not only our good and friendly neighbors and country people, but also our enemies and those who do us harm.
Jesus saved the best till last! The reason for us loving our enemies is because God loves in this way. “He makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Likewise there are to be no limits, no conditions, to the goodness of the disciples. We are to be mature disciples with everyone we meet.
Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mt. 6: 1-6, 16-18
The Sermon on the Mount continues with today’s Gospel and Jesus urges his disciples to be real, sincere people and not phonies. We are not to pretend and be hypocrites when we give alms, pray or fast. We are not to be phonies, period.
We are phony when we are self-righteous. We are not to set ourselves on a pedestal apart from other people. And this is exactly what is going on when we judge other people and look down on them, put them down, for whatever it is they have done. To do this is to be phonier than a 4 dollar bill. We are all in this thing called life together. We are all good people and, as we have seen many times before, we are all ignorant, all sinners. And anyone who says they do not fall into these categories had better take another look. The self-righteous person justifies sinful actions, rationalizes them for themselves as being OK, but if other people do the same thing, they are horrible, bad people. I did this a lot when I was a drinking alcoholic. What I did was OK no matter what it was. And later on when I received the gift of sobriety, I had a hard time thinking God would forgive me for all this nonsense and lying to myself.
Lord, help me to realize we are all in the same boat. No one, absolutely no one, is better than anyone else.
Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mt. 6: 7-15
Lord, teach is to pray.
One of the best ways I know to cease being a phony is to pray. Prayer is an act of humility and the humble person will see themselves the way they really are and not get into this phoniness bit. Prayer shows our dependence on God in all things. Jesus tells us as much in the parable of the Vine and the Branches: Without me, you can do nothing. Jesus taught his disciples what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. In this prayer we see our dependence on God and our own humility.
We acknowledge God as our Father whose very name is holy and we welcome his will in all things. We ask Him for our daily sustenance, his forgiveness for our wrongs, and for his grace to be able to forgive those who harm us. We ask him to lead us on the right path and keep us from all evil.
All of this shows our dependence on God. This is how we are to pray. Lord, help us to carry on an endless conversation with you all day every day. In this way we will become whole, complete, fulfilled, holy. Thank you, Lord, for listening to all our prayers.
Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mt. 6: 19-23
In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples to put the accent on the spiritual things of life and not on the material things. We are not to seek the treasures of the earth but the spiritual realities of God. We are to use the material things of this world to continue the life God has given us. Some material things such as food and shelter, among others, are necessary for our survival. God made it so. But these material things are not meant to be an end in themselves.
We are basically spiritual beings. Most of our problems are spiritual problems and they demand a spiritual solution. You can’t solve a spiritual problem with a material solution. It won’t work. This is why yesterday’s Gospel urged us to pray, fast, and give alms. These are spiritual things and we can use them to help spiritual problems. Our treasure should be spiritual and not material. We need to seek the light of the spiritual things and not the darkness of material things.
Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Mt 6: 24-34
The closing verses of chapter 6 in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount point out that the choices made by the disciples of the Lord must be centered on God and not on the material things around us. We are to focus on light, love and eternal life with God in the life to come.
Today’s Gospel reading is pretty much a repetition of what we said on Friday. Earthly treasures can be eaten by moths or stolen by robbers. Lasting treasures, that no one can destroy or steal, are centered on God. The “wealth” of God consists in love, prayer, compassion, forgiveness, service to others, kindness, acceptance, equality, respect, humility, honesty and the other ways of God. These center on God and the spiritual side of our lives and bring us an abundance of his life even in our lives here on earth.
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