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    St. Mary's Parish
    211 Avenue O South
    Saskatoon, SK
    S7M 2R6

    Phone: 306 244 2983
    Fax: 306 242 6461

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    Saturday: 7pm
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    8:30am to 12 Noon
    12:30pm to 4:00pm
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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Love & Forgiveness

King David was chosen by God to form his royal household. At the same time, God knew David through and through. He knew his virtues and strengths, and also his weaknesses and temptations. Despite his sin – he was an adulterer and murderer – David had a heart set on doing the will of God, and that was important to God. He cared more about the heart rather than the number of sins or even good deeds. What distinguished David’s heart was his dependency on the Lord. Like children toward their parents, David was always aware of his need for God. But most of all, David’s was a repentant heart. He heeded the words of God through his prophet Nathan, and did as God asked.

St. Paul consistently called his converts to a deeper life in Christ. In speaking to the Galatians he wants them to know that God is interested in their hearts set on Christ and the kingdom, and not on the external compliance with the Jewish Law. Paul was well familiar with the Law as a devout Jew. Although tensions arose among some of the Gentiles who had to embrace external Jewish practices (circumcision, dietary laws, etc.), their desire to follow Jesus overrode their objections or difficulties. St. Paul’s beautiful words, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me,” bears witness to Paul’s desire to grow in the grace and fidelity of God. He had already experienced a dramatic conversion to the way of Christ, and he encouraged his listeners to also seek this fullness of life in Christ. Indeed, Christ would live in them as he did in him! His ‘crucifixion’ was to sin and his former ways, and his resurrection to that new life of grace and unity with God.

This lengthy gospel has many messages within it. The first one – as evident in my previous reflections – is about the reaction of the Pharisee to the presence of the sinful woman. He was prejudiced against her. He had her judged and condemned. She did not ‘belong’ with Jesus, if he really was who people said he was. The Pharisee doubts this because no honourable person, and even less a prophet, would allow someone of her ‘kind’ to be near and touch him. Despite what the Pharisee thought, Jesus assured her that her sins were forgiven and that she could go in peace.

There is also a message about the householder, a Pharisee, who had invited him. Not only did he reveal his prejudice against the woman, but Jesus tells him that he has not shown Jesus the hospitality that should be shown toward him. In his time and place, it was an act of hospitality to wash the feet of the guests, after their walking on sandy and dusty roads in sandals. It was not only cleansing, but refreshing. However, he did not do this, but rather the sinful woman was overwhelming in her washing of his feet – with her tears – and drying his feet – with her hair. Although the Pharisee had the outward appearance of goodness, hospitality, and even success, his interior disposition was seriously lacking. His heart was not set on fulfilling the prescripts of the Law, and he lacked hospitality and kindness.

In this light the parable Jesus speaks of, about the debtor, takes on special meaning. The “love” of the woman for Jesus was so great because she had been forgiven greatly. However the Pharisee, although not so much of a public sinner (as was the woman), was judgmental and condemnatory and lacked forgiveness and compassion. Jesus leaves no doubt which of the personalities in the gospel we are to emulate.

Fr. Paul S Voisin, C.R.

06 – June 12, 2016


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