Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 12, 2016 – Year C
Readings: 2 Sm 12:7-10, 13 / Ps 32 / Gal 2:16, 19-21 / Lk 7:36-8:3
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
This past week, as I was perusing Facebook, I saw a story about Ron Howard, little Opie Taylor. He and his wife just celebrated their forty-first wedding anniversary. I know some of you saw it, too, because it told me at the top of the screen that you “liked” it.
I can’t speak to how happy or how fulfilled this long marriage was; I just know in the picture they seemed very happy. Needless to say, they’ve made it forty-one years. This seems to be pretty atypical for Hollywood. Every day there’s story after story of movie stars and executives whose marriages have failed, sometimes only after a few months. And most of the love stories that we see on TV and in movies are similar.
Most of those love stories are more in line with the love story of David and Bathsheba. Today’s first reading picks up at the end of the story. If you go back a little bit in the Book of 2 Samuel, you’ll read that David was out strolling on the roof one night, and he saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on a nearby roof. He was smitten instantly. He was obsessed. The problem was that Bathsheba was already married. But David, being king, didn’t let that stop him. He entered into an adulterous affair with her and, nature being what it is, she became pregnant.
But Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, had been away for quite some time, fighting a war for David. So David tries to contrive to get her husband to come back, so that they would be together, so that it would not be obvious who the father was.
But Uriah was steadfast, and he didn’t want to leave the rest of the men. David concocted a plan: He had Uriah sent to the very front in the battle and abandoned, so that he would be killed. So you see, not only did David commit adultery, he was guilty of murder, too. And the punishment in the Mosaic Law for that is death.
The first reading picks up when the prophet Nathan confronts him about this, because David thought he was scot-free; there were no witnesses.
But there are two other love stories in the readings today, love stories of a much different type. I’m talking about two love stories about God.
The first one is the love story of David and God. Because, while David was guilty, he repented and God forgave him. He was guilty; he was not worthy of forgiveness, but God forgave him anyway.
The woman in the gospel was also guilty. She was “sinful.” That’s all the gospel says, but it can be concluded that she was a prostitute. And everybody obviously knew this. But she was moved with remorse, and she fell at the feet of Jesus, and he forgave her anyway, even though she was guilty.
This is a love story, too, and it brings out one of the most profound truths about love, which is that love cannot be earned. Love is freely given. Like all love, we can’t earn God’s love. You see, this is called “justification.” That’s the technical term for it. I looked up the textbook definition of justification, and it is “being made righteous in the sight of God.”
None of us is perfect. We all fall short. None of us is worthy. But God loves us anyway.
So what do we do? In the second reading, St. Paul tells us. St. Paul says that we are made righteous in the eyes of God because we have faith in Jesus Christ. As Christians we believe that the execution of the Son of God was sufficient for everyone. It’s like the old hymn says: “Jesus paid it all. He paid my debt and raised this life from death.” All that is required is repentance and accepting the love that God has for us.
So I know some of you are saying, wait a minute, Deacon, what about penance? Father always gives me something to do in Confession. Penance is not about changing the heart of God. Penance is about changing our hearts. It’s like rehab after an accident or surgery. We go to rehab, and we do the work so that we will benefit, so that we will get stronger, so that we can rejoin our friends and family at home.
It’s the same way with works of mercy. We don’t do works of mercy to “earn points” to get to heaven. It’s not like a frequent flyer program. We do them because God loves us, and the response to love is to love back. We have been loved much, so we are called to love much in response. We have been forgiven, and we need to forgive.
As a parent, I’ve discovered that I am most moved, I feel most loved, when people love my children. And, after all, we’re all God’s children. Jesus told us that people will know that we love Him, because we love each other.
So today, I invite you to resolve yourself to embrace the joy of the Gospel, to accept the love that God offers each one of us. Because your faith in Jesus Christ has saved you, so go in peace and share that love with the world.