CACINA

Already Forgiven!!

Posted in christian, Christianity, ethics, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Rev. Martha on June 10, 2016

11th Sunday Homily, 6-12-16  year C, 2nd Samuel 12:1-13, Galatians 2: 16-21, Luke 7: 36-50

Our 1st reading is one of the few readings in the Sunday lectionary from King David’s life, and it’s sad that we read about one of his worst moments.  Adultery & murder are taboo in most cultures because they tear the very fabric of community life.  David knowingly and purposefully sinned.  Nathan told him a parable which made him face what he did. David used his wiles, his wealth, his power, and his position to sin.  How could God forgive him?

But there is a clear message of God’s grace and mercy. Psalm 51 is David’s confession. “A clean heart create for me, God; do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit. Restore my joy in your salvation.”  So, what is the message Nathan brings?  “The Lord has forgiven your sin.”   That is the message of the story.  That is the take-away.  That is the point.  No matter how far he had fallen – even the mighty King David – or the darkness of the sin, God had announced his forgiveness to Nathan before David had even been confronted.  There are, however, repercussions from David’s actions – not punishment from God, but natural consequences; that’s an important distinction.

Then we hear Paul’s take on how we move from sin to grace. “I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me,” Paul writes to the Galatians.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  We rejoice because of what God has done.” Let me paraphrase.  ”I live in the present”, he says.  ”But my sin, even before it happened, died with Jesus when he was crucified.  I have faith in and believe this in the very core of my being:  that Jesus loved me when I was at my worst, and that he was willing to die a shameful dead, a torturous death at the hands of people just like me, people who did the same sinful things I do.  All of this Jesus did before I ever came to believe.  Jesus’ actions and God’s forgiveness preceded my understanding of and my confession of my sins.”

But a picture is worth a thousand words, so Luke provides the picture. So often we find the original story in the Old Testament, like David and Nathan, and then Jesus comes along and takes that same story line, and lives it out, showing us God’s ways. See, without Jesus, we are inclined to think God is like us, and we want to create a god in our image.  We want revenge, we want others to stoop and gravel before us.  We want to hear, “Oh please, I beg you to forgive me!!”  So we assume, from our expectations, that we must cajole or coax or wheedle or shame God into forgiving us, you know, lean on him a little.  But is that really how God is??

To answer that question, Jesus, like Nathan, presents a compelling parable about forgiveness – in this case the forgiveness of debt, a concrete subject that wealthy Simon the Pharisee can relate to…just as David, once a shepherd, understood sheep story.

Here it is: Two men are in serious debt. One owes 50 days wages, which would take years to repay.  The other owes 500 days wages –hopeless, impossible to repay.   The vineyards that have been in his family for 100’s of years will be sold off, the wife and kids will be sold into slavery. But the creditor forgives both of them.  Which man will be really delighted, but which one will be ecstatic, jumping, screaming with joy, sobbing with love and thanksgiving?  Obvious.  Simon’s response sounds hesitant to me, and I suspect he hears a rebuke coming, for Simon the Pharisee is well aware that he has not extended the appropriate hospitality to Jesus.  Simon would have seen to it that anyone of his own social status would have been greeted with water to wash his feet, would have been given a firm kiss, and his hair would have been anointed with soothing perfumed oil.  But Simon had done none of these things for Jesus.  Jesus has been treated like the entertainment, and quite possible the amusement, for the other guests.

Meanwhile, Jesus had allowed this woman’s administrations, which are far beyond social norms. She sobbed over him, to the point of washing his feet with her copious tears, wiping them with her hair, which no proper woman would loosen and display in public, kissing and anointing his feet with ointment.  The boldness of this woman was undoubtedly caused by her understanding of who Jesus was, and the undeniable need to seize this chance to express her overwhelming gratitude.  Simon judges Jesus as ignorant of what he thinks is the impropriety of her behavior; Simon judges her to be of low morals and sinful.

But suddenly Jesus turns the tables. Simon is called out on his rude behavior, and the woman is praised: “Her many sins have been forgiven; therefore she has shown great love.”  The Greek structure of that sentence becomes ambiguous when translated to English.  Some might find it confusing and think her show of love has lead to her forgiveness.  Not so; think back to Jesus’ parable.  Did the debtors display any great virtue or faith?  No!  It was the creditor who forgave the debt, and the love and joy were a reaction to the forgiveness of the debt. And Jesus, to seal the deal so to speak, announces, “Your sins are forgiven”, and causes the other guests to stop and reconsider the whole situation.

So what are we left with here? Can it be that God initiates forgiveness?  Can it be that God has already forgiven us our sins, even before we acknowledge them?  Is it possible that we waste enormous parts of our lives avoiding facing our darkness and shutting our eyes and ears to reconciliation with God and neighbors?  Do we miss the chance to feel and express our joy; do we shut down and remain static instead?  Maybe the part of the darkness in this world that is ours just seems too large to fix or beyond our control, so we rationalize it as too big for God to fix.  How would our lives change if we forgave everyone of everything right away instead waited for them to confess guilt?  What if Christians really were known for their love and forgiveness?  Perhaps in the answers to these questions is the hope our churches and community and nations seek.

 

Homily September 29, 2013 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on September 25, 2013

luke_16_rich_man_and_lazarus1Today Luke comes to the end of his section dealing with wealth, the difference between the rich and the poor. In this story, we see the rich man in splendor and Lazarus as a wretched beggar with sores and starving at the rich man’s door. After they both die, there is a role reversal with the rich man in torment and Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom. What is interesting here is the fact that no actual reason is given for the man being in torment other than he was rich and led a rather comfortable life. However if we look closely we can see that the seeds of the problem are visible. The rich man calls out to Abraham to send Lazarus with water for relief, and later to send him back to life to warn his brothers. What happens here is that even in the next life the rich man never acknowledges Lazarus as a man but as some kind of messenger or servant to be used for his own purposes. What is different from when he lay at his doorstep in life? He is just there, something like furniture to be used when needed. His wealth, his comfort were all that were important to him. The past prophets like Amos had warned of the tantalizing effect of wealth and comfort. If our faith and belief doesn’t prepare us, what will. Jesus has always preached that it wasn’t appearances or how we looked but who we were as persons. Even Abraham in the middle of the desert sat at the entrance of his tent and beckoned all who passed by with his hospitality and invited them to rest. He never asked who they were or where they were from. Such welcome must have been refreshing in an environment so difficult for traveling.

In the early times after Christ and today, Christians celebrate the Eucharist with everyone being invited to share at one All-are-welcome-graphic-Copytable. Today we welcome all to Christ’s table with no turning back of anyone who accepts Christ’s forgiveness and believes in the receiving of His body and blood. Each person who enters is unique and another link in a life to our own journey to the next life. What we have and give and share will always make us a better person. With the times seemingly dividing the so-called haves and have-nots today, it is incumbent that we not be overly consumed by what we have and accumulate. As the world seems to shrink today, we must take to heart the lesson of the rich man. Jesus didn’t really leave anything out. The man didn’t “do” anything wrong but actually his fault was in what he did not do.

This I think is our lesson today. Look about, see the world, the beauty, and all there is, especially those we pass and encounter. Salvation comes to very few for one big magnanimous act, such as a martyr. Salvation is faith played out day-to-day, task to task person to person. It can really be a joyful thing if we are joyful.

Homily September 1, 2013 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on August 29, 2013

As we look around us, we see all kinds of stores and shops and places to eat. If you think about it, we spend a lot of time and money and space in our concern about feeding and sustaining ourselves. All through history this has been evident, and it is a reality among every species. As human beings we have taken eating a meal to a very important act of living. So much we do is centered around eating whether it be an important decision-making meeting, or the interlude between business sessions, or a dinner or banquet for some stated occasion. Even in the family home,there are formularies followed by each family much in line with the schedules of the particular family. In fact, when all are present, a certain ritual develops in each household. Part of ritual or form would be the seating of all the participants. From the gospel, we see that this was certainly a concern in Jesus’ time. Meals and dining were a statement, a way of life, a way of asserting status. Everyone was invited for a reason, a benefit for the giver of the dinner in some way. Reciprocation was always a part of these reasons. The host would certainly be expressing his status in the community and his familiarity with the others he invited.
Christ_at_the_House_of_Simon_the_Pharisee_
While Jesus accepted the invitation as he often did in his lifetime, we see today the little twist he puts on the occasion and offers his own prescription for remedy of the faults of the system. He points out that many rush for the prime seating, only to find that more distinguished guests are there than them. He points out that if we had the proper humility, we wouldn’t presume we were owed the places of honor and should simply be seated. It shouldn’t be a false humility, but the realization that in reality the places of honor are passing and not important in light of the fact that in reality we are all the same except for perhaps that moment. He even goes so far as to say that the poor, the hungry, the deprived, the lame and others without food should be invited. Repayment or reciprocation should not be our motive. The coming together and sharing will be rewarded in the time of resurrection.

One final thought of the reading of the banquet in today’s reading. When we come to Mass, I think sometimes we forget that originally Jesus was the host at a final meal. We forget that the disciples were gathered around eating and drinking when Jesus introduced a whole new meaning to eating and drinking. Anew food and drink, His own Body and Blood. At this table there is only one host and all share equally in the food and drink. This table excludes no one and should be inviting all to partake. We must realize that we can exalt ourselves by extending this invitation.