Scripture Commentary for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13

This is a story of forgiveness, which is what all of the readings seem to be about today.  David owned up to his sin.  By Israel’s law David could have been put to death for his actions, but he was spared.  Justice would be realized through David’s offspring (there was a Jewish understanding that offspring would bear the guilt of their parents).  David would be judged and his act of violence would be reciprocated.  David’s child by Bathsheba would die.  Other children of David would later die by the sword as well  (Birmingham, M.  Word & Worship for Year C, p. 396-397).

Is it enough to say you’re sorry?  How often do we see in the news the excuses people make for bad behavior instead of owning up to what they did?  There is something about being sorry and making amends.  Putting action to the words.  There is a reason why a penance is given with absolution for our sin.  We must go forth.  It is not enough to sit with our sorry.  We must be changed by making our whole body go do something about it.  How have you seen this in your own life?

Galatians 2:16, 19-21

The epistle to the Galatians is known as Paul’s “angry letter”.  These people have aroused his ire in a manner that surpasses anything we find elsewhere.  The main issue is that they want to be circumcised!  Paul feels by them wanting this that they are deserting God and perverting the gospel of Christ.  Is one made right with God by doing works of the law (like circumcision) or by trusting in Christ?  (Powell, M., introducing the New Testament, p. 307-308)  It’s not that Paul has no use for law; he is only giving perspective.  Don’t let it own you.  The game changer is Jesus.  Follow Him.

Paul’s spirituality is profoundly changed when he met the risen Christ.  He reflects on Jesus’ teachings in such a way that he LIVES them.  Then he shares that experience with us.  He feels such a personal relationship with Jesus that he says Christ lives IN him.  Isn’t that profound?  Where else do we hear about such a connection in scripture?   The apostles were too close to Jesus.  They were friends.  They couldn’t make that leap yet that Jesus could be incarnated through them.  But Paul sees this reality.  It is a risk for Paul, right?  He is saying it is SO MUCH MORE than about law.  It is about BEING.  Think of examples in your own life when the ordinary stuff of life (that you thought was important) came at odds with what you believe to be true in your center (where God is).

The Gospel: Luke 7:36 – 8:3

From William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, 92-94:

*When a guest entered such a house, three ‘signs of respect’ were always done: a kiss of peace, a washing of feet, and an offering of a drop of rose attar or a pinch of incense. These things were considered just good manners.

*Why would Simon invite Jesus to his house?

  1. He was an admirer of Jesus.  Not every Pharisee was an enemy.  This seems unlikely because of the disagreement.
  2. He could be trying to entice Jesus into saying or doing something that he can charge against him.  This also seems unlikely because in verse 40, Simon calls him Rabbi.
  3. He may have enjoyed celebrities.  This would best explain the wavering respect.

*Simon was conscious of no need; the woman was consumed by her need. In Jesus she found her need answered; she had been lost and now she was found. She was overwhelmed with love – and with being loved and accepted. She is not afraid to even unbind her hair (act of gravest modesty) and to cry tears of joy. The one thing that can shut us off from God is self-sufficiency . . . It is true to say that the greatest sin is perhaps to be conscious of no sin. Our need can bring us to open the door of our hearts to God’s forgiveness and love. God is love and love’s greatest glory is to be needed.

From Roland Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, 426-427:

This story is about contrast – the contrast between self-righteousness and true righteousness, which is a loving response to God’s love for us. This woman’s loving deeds are not done to ‘earn’ forgiveness; they are an overwhelming response to first having been forgiven. The forgiveness came before the love.

The last short section of this gospel from chapter 8 may allow us to confuse ‘this sinful woman’ with Mary of Magdala. They are most likely not the same person. Mary Magdalene’s ‘seven devils’ might have been a very serious illness from which Christ cured her. There is no evidence that this referred to sexual sins.

From “Working with the Word” http://liturgy.slu.edu:

While Simon’s wrongdoing might be seen as nothing more than a breach of hospitality, as the story goes on we come to realize that Simon’s real fault was in loving little. Because of his small heart, he is unable to see this woman; he only sees what ‘kind of a woman’ she is. To him she is just part of a class of people with whom he does not wish to associate. Jesus challenges him: “Simon, ‘Do you see this woman?’”

It is the smallness of our hearts that reduces people to caricatures; this smallness shuts out others. The love Jesus offers opens our hearts to a whole new world of goodness and possibilities!

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