Giving of ourselves
Gospel Reflection for the 11th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C – June 16th 2013
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on our parish website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is that is touching him and what a bad name she has.’ Then Jesus took him up and said, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’‘Speak Master’ was the reply. ‘There was once a creditor who had two men in. his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. They were unable to pay, so he pardoned them both. Which of them will love him more?’‘The one who was pardoned more, I suppose’ answered Simon. Jesus said, ‘You are right.’
Then he turned to the woman. ‘Simon’, he said ‘you see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love. It is the man who is forgiven little who shows little love.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man, that he even forgives sins?’ But he said to the woman ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’
Now after this he made his way through towns and villages, preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.
Every meal that Jesus shared says something to us about the Eucharist and about Christian community. His ‘last supper’ was one of many, all of which explains something of who he is and who we are.
At this meal, the one who should have been barred at the door became the principal guest. At Mass all are welcome – the saint and the sinner. The table of the Eucharist would be a circular table, with nobody at the top.
It was a meal of giving something precious of oneself. Her tears were external signs of her real and true self – a precious part of herself.
We give at Mass – the offertory is the giving of the bread and the wine. We give the gifts of the heart at Mass; the love of our lives is poured into the Mass.
And Jesus gives — forgiveness and healing. She left the meal better than she came in, and so we too leave our leave Mass better than we came in.
The Mass is one time of giving ourselves as best we can to love and to God. Much of our giving to God is indirect. What we give to others we are giving to him. What we give to others we give to God at Mass.
A bright light came into that room when the woman arrived. She brought humility – she knew her place – warmly welcomed by Jesus. The Eucharist is where we are all equal in dignity. Our biggest dignity is we are children of god – she knew that, Simon didn’t. She gave of herself, from the heart and God saw that and said things about her that have lasted forever. May he say of each of us – he loved much, she loved much. And because we loved much we are much loved.
Donal Neary SJ