11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) 06-13-10 Scripture Readings First 2 Samuel 12:7-10,13 Second Galatians 2:16,19-21 Gospel Luke 7:36-8:3 Prepared by: Fr. Allen B.

Moran, O.P. 1. Subject Matter

“When God hits them late, He hits them hard,” as one member of the province is known to say. In the reception of God’s mercy in the forgiveness of our sins, we receive something that we can never merit. The largess of the giver of mercy is more clearly manifest the greater the bond dissolved by this forgiveness. The more shackles that fall to the ground, and the more aware we are of our need for God’s mercy to break free, the more we are overcome with the love we have received. This movement of God’s love opens the heart of its recipient to emulate it more and more.

2. Exegetical Notes • • King David’s immediate indignation and his instant repentance show what kind of man he was. The great Psalm of repentance (Ps. 50 (51)) is attached to this moment in King David’s life. (Blenkinsopp) In Gal. 2:16 alludes to Ps. 143:2, i.e. “a person is not justified by works of the law,” which he quotes more explicitly in Rom. 3:20. This is a penitential psalm and an individual lament in which the penitent appeals to the Lord’s mercy, faithfulness, and righteousness and not his own innocence. The Psalmist denies the possibility of man being justified by his own merits totally apart from God’s grace and mercy. (Silva) Gal. 2:16 gives the essence of Paul’s position concerning Jews and Gentiles. Both need redemption through Christ. “Justification” in St. Paul means an interior purification by which a man’s sins are utterly blotted out and he is made acceptable to God in virtue of faith with charity, and good works. No one even under the Old Dispensation was justified save by the foreseen merits of Christ and through faith in God’s promise of Redemption. (Orchard) The repentant woman’s actions were an extraordinary display of gratitude for the mercy that she had already received and her tears, too, were tears of thanksgiving. The money lender of the parable is hardly typical of his calling. It is manifest that close behind him stands a God who is ready to forgive any debt. In the parable, and throughout the

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narrative, “love” means “Thankful love”, “gratitude”. This is what the Pharisee lacks and why the repentant sinner is closer to God. (Harrington) The woman’s reputation causes the Pharisee to grow nervous, but for Jesus her condition simply speaks of her need to be rightly related to God. (Bock) “Jesus’ acceptance of her action is what bothers the Pharisee, who exemplifies the doubter and skeptic. It is clear from the host’s reaction that the woman had a well-known reputation. Yet from the parable that follows it is clear that Jesus knows both the woman’s past and the Pharisee’s thoughts. When Jesus reads minds a rebuke often follows. (Bock) It is characteristic of Jesus’ parables that they have a striking feature or an unexpected twist. In this parable it is the unexpected remittance of outstanding debts. It is the unmerited character of the act that is the basis for the gratitude. God is ready and willing to forgive the debts of people and to act graciously beyond expectation. This picture of God’s grace motivates Jesus’ acceptance of those in dire need and his openness toward sinners. It is this very point that the Pharisee needs to see. (Bock)

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles "so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations"(Lk 24:47). The apostles and their successors carry out this "ministry of reconciliation," not only by announcing to men God's forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ: (2 Cor 5:18) [The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit's action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us (St. Augustine, Sermo 214, 11: PL 38, 1071-1072).

CCC 982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. "There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest” [ Roman Catechism I, 11, 5]. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin(Cf. Mt. 18:21-22). CCC 1430 Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance (Cf. Joel 2:12-13; Isa 1:16-17; Mt 6:1-6; 16-18). CCC 1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace.

CCC 1432 The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart (Cf. Ezek. 36:26-27). Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!" (Lam 5:21). God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. the human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced (Jn 19:37; Zech 12:10). Let us fix our eyes on Christ's blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.

4. Patristic Commentary

“By saying, ‘Christ lives in me,’ he means nothing is done by me that Christ disapproves; for as by death he signifies not what is commonly understood, but a death to sin, so by life, he signifies not what is commonly understood, but a death to sin, so by life, he signifies a delivery from sin…sin, when it has the mastery, is itself the vital principle, and leads the soul wherever it will, so when it is slain and the will of Christ is obeyed, this life is no longer earthly, but Christ lives, that is, works, has mastery within us.” (St. John Chrysostom) “But why, someone says, did Christ admit that harlot? So He might put away her iniquity, because there is no malady, which prevails over His goodness. Do not merely look at the fact that He received her, but consider the other point also: how He changed her.” (St. John Chrysostom) “In order that you may have the same experience [of forgiveness], reflect within yourself that your sin is great, but that it is blasphemy against God and damage to yourself to despair of his forgiveness because your sin seems to you to be too great.” (Anonymous Syrian writer) “Supplication is an imploring or petition concerning sins, in which one who is sorry for his present or past deeds asks for pardon…In one and the same man his changing feelings will give utterance to pure and fervent petitions now of supplication, now of prayers, now of intercession. Yet the first seems to belong more especially to beginners, who are still troubled by the stings and recollections of their sins.” (John Cassian) “He came so He would forgive the debts much and little, and show mercy upon small and great, that there might be no one whatsoever who did not participate in His goodness.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria) In her Story of a Soul, St. Therese argues that she herself has been loved more, not because she has sinned more, but because Jesus had prevented her from falling. She makes the comparison between a physician’s child who is bandaged up after tripping over a rock and the same child who has had the rock removed by her father in advance. At first glance, it would seem that the child who had injured herself would be more grateful because she would know the pain of her injury and the effect of its healing. St. Therese insists, however, that if the girl who never tripped because her father already removed the rock were to discover this action of love she would be ever more grateful than the healed daughter.

5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars


Mercy and truth are necessarily found in all God's works, if mercy be taken to mean the removal of any kind of defect. Not every defect, however, can properly be called a misery; but only defect in a rational nature whose lot is to be happy; for misery is opposed to happiness. For this necessity there is a reason, because since a debt paid according to the divine justice is one due either to God, or to some creature, neither the one nor the other can be lacking in any work of God: because God can do nothing that is not in accord with His wisdom and goodness; and it is in this sense, as we have said, that anything is due to God. Likewise, whatever is done by Him in created things, is done according to proper order and proportion wherein consists the idea of justice. Thus justice must exist in all God's works. Now the work of divine justice always presupposes the work of mercy; and is founded thereupon. For nothing is due to creatures, except for something pre-existing in them, or foreknown. Again, if this is due to a creature, it must be due on account of something that precedes. And since we cannot go on to infinity, we must come to something that depends only on the goodness of the divine will---which is the ultimate end… So in every work of God, viewed at its primary source, there appears mercy. In all that follows, the power of mercy remains, and works indeed with even greater force; as the influence of the first cause is more intense than that of second causes. For this reason does God out of abundance of His goodness bestow upon creatures what is due to them more bountifully than is proportionate to their deserts: since less would suffice for preserving the order of justice than what the divine goodness confers; because between creatures and God's goodness there can be no proportion. (Aquinas, S.T. I, 21, 4) “Here, just for once, it is not a matter of sex and eroticism, not a matter of men’s desires and of “love for sale”. This concerns the love that this woman had previously been seeking in vain. Here is someone who does not desire her as an object of lust but can recognize in this woman’s actions and her tears the most profound longing for love, the longing for the one person who is able to give her in return the kind of love that does not leave her heart still hungry and empty.” (Schönborn) “Even if I have not become a whore, have not murdered anyone, have not become a thief or a robber, this is not because I am so much better than whores or robbers but because God has been gracious to me and has kept me from it.” (Schönborn)

7. Other Considerations

“To live forgiven means to love energetically without limit…Forgiveness will be central to he way Jesus will teach his disciples to pray (Lk 11:4), to Christians’ daily dealings with others (Lk 17:3-4), to Christ’s last wishes on the cross (Lk 23:34), and to the Resurrection preaching of the Eleven (Lk 24:47). Each of these acts is an exercise of charity. We must love the forgiveness that Jesus has given us in our unworthiness more than we love others’ repect for us (Lk 11:43).” (Cameron) Even if she was a perverse and sinful lover, she was and is in some sense a lover, rather than a person preoccupied with her own righteousness. God’s forgiving grace connects with her impure love, moving her to testify exuberantly of her contrition. It is not that the prostitute’s love moved God’s mercy to excuse her so that she could then give evidence of a great and pure love for the Lord. The interplay between constantly prevenient grace and the

onset of genuine love in the woman is a totality that we dare not try to unravel. Certainly God’s love can take hold on the very limited love of a self-righteous person only inadequately and with great difficulty. Connecting this account of forgiveness with that from 2 Sam. 12, King David’s sin is also one of love gone astray and not of hard-hearted malice. The difference is that in the Old Covenant, he had to pay the penalty for his sin, whereas in the New Covenant Jesus takes the penalty for our guilt upon himself.(von Balthazar) Recommended Resources Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica. Blenkinsopp, J. “1 and 2 Samuel” in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. Nashville: Nelson, 1975. Bock, Darrell L. Luke 1:1-9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994. Camerson, O.P., Peter John. To Praise, to Bless, and to Preach: Spiritual Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, Cycle C. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2000. Friends of Henry Ashworth, eds. Christ Our Light: Readings on Gospel Themes. Vol. II. Ambler, PA: Exordium Books, 1985. Harrington, O.P., W.J. “St. Luke” in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. Reginald Fuller, Leonard Johnston, Conleth Kearns, O.P. eds. Nashville: Nelson, 1975. Orchard, Dom Bernard. “Galatians” in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. Reginald Fuller, Leonard Johnston, Conleth Kearns, O.P. eds. Nashville: Nelson, 1975. Schönborn, Christoph Cardinal. Jesus, the Divine Physician: Encountering Christ in the Gospel of Luke. San Franscisco: Ignatius Press, 2008. Silva, Moisés. “Galatians” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, eds. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.. Von Balthazar, Hans Urns. Light of the Word. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993.

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