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Select Exegesis
June, 12 2013

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Rev. Timothy P. Schehr

2 Samuel 12:7-13 Galatians 2:16-21 Luke 7:36 – 8:3

            Imagine having Jesus as a dinner guest. In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus sits at table in the home of a Pharisee named Simon. It is safe to say the servings were excellent and plentiful. But this Simon was about to learn that Jesus too was a generous host. Of course, in the Lord’s case, the servings were profoundly spiritual.

            It all begins when a woman known for a wayward past begins washing the feet of Jesus with her tears. Luke adds further details to the scene, making it all the more moving. She dries the Lord’s feet with her hairs, kisses them, and then applies a fine ointment. All her actions show how truly sorry she is for her past and how desperately she seeks healing from Jesus. Her hunger is not for the food on the table, but for the forgiveness of the Lord.

            Simon is skeptical. Does Jesus know what kind of woman this is who presumes to touch him? Surely Jesus must know this if he truly is the master prophet everyone says he is. Simon keeps all these observations to himself of course. He does not want to embarrass his guest. Jesus knows Simon’s thoughts. Yet Jesus is no less gracious than his host. He does not bluntly correct Simon in his own home and at his own table but instead offers him a parable to mull over. In this way Simon can come to a new realization all on his own. The lesson of the parable is perfectly clear: one forgiven a greater debt will love the creditor more.

            The gospel concludes with the mention of some women in the Lord’s company. Luke tells us they were “cured of evil spirits and infirmities.” Mary Magdalene is among them. By the time she is introduced to us she has been freed from “seven demons” perhaps suggesting she was perfectly healed b the Lord. There is no basis for identifying her with the sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus. That connection seems to derive from Luke’s mentioning Mary Magdalene soon after the scene in Simon’s house. In any case Mary Magdalene now serves as a model of faith. What we do not read is that Simon the Pharisee accompanied Jesus, even after such a wonderful spiritual healing had taken place under his own roof. However, the fact that his name is remembered may suggest that in time he did become a believer.

            Forgiveness is the theme of the first reading too. The scene comes from the dramatic account of David’s sin against Bathsheba and her husband. David, who won so many battles on the field, was not so victorious against the enemy within. Just when David imagines he has put the matter behind him Nathan comes forward to make him face up to his spiritual failure. The prophet reminds David of all the gifts he enjoyed from God all his life. Yet David has displayed absolutely no gratitude to God and instead has acted as if he alone were master of his world. It will not work. The king has given his successors a terrible example to follow; the sword will never depart from his royal line. To his credit David immediately admits his sin. For this David’s life goes on. It remains to be seen whether, in gratitude for this gift, David devotes the rest of his life to becoming model of faith and devotion for his successors. David might have benefited from the teaching of Paul in the second reading. Paul is determined to live by faith in the Lord. As Paul says, the Son of God “has loved me and given himself up for me.”




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