This is my homily for Sunday 13 June 2010, 13th Sunday in ordinary time. On-campus Mass at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) Teaneck, NJ resumes 7:30 p.m. Sunday August 29 for the 2010-2011 school year. I am the Catholic chaplain for the community and FDU Newman Catholic Association.
[__01] One thing we all try to avoid – but nonetheless encounter is the burden of carrying debt, the burden of owing money.
To buy what we need, sometimes we have no choice but to borrow money or put in our VISA card. And, then we gradually pay off our debts.
Or, perhaps, we seek forgiveness of our debts.
And, we learn in the Gospel today about 2 individuals with different credit histories and balances:
“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon [the Pharisee] said in reply to Jesus, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” [Jesus] said to [Simon] him, “You have judged rightly.” (Luke 7:41-43)
The creditor forgives them both. And, the creditor symbolizes God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in whose debt we are, to whom we owe our lives.
[__02] Simon the Pharisee does not see himself as one of the two individuals in the parable because he pays off his debt – his balance – completely every month.
He sees this as a financial question, of net worth. And he’s doing just fine.
[__03] What Jesus is trying to tell Simon the Pharisee – and all of us – is that we are in debt, in debt to God’s mercy, in debt to Jesus who gives his life on the Cross.
This debt – these sins – are not paid off in monthly installments – but paid off every time we turn in repentance to God, to confess our sins.
We celebrate the repayment of this debt also when we receive Holy Communion, when we turn to God in prayer. And, we can always inquire of God – what is my debt? What are my sins?
It’s not a recorded message; we turn to Jesus personally to find this out.
[__04] Simon does not understand this fully, but someone else does.
Someone else who does not have such good credit. This is the woman whose sins - whose transgressions -- are well known.
This woman understands that Jesus will lay down his life for her and for us.
Thus, she anoints his feet.
What is this anointing?
In this anointing, we see the outpouring of oil. The spilling of oil on Jesus – the spilling of oil which is Good News.
We are “invited to see in this a symbolic embalming of His body as though he were already dead. She recognizes the singular significance of Jesus’ oncoming death.”
Simon, on the other hand, is able to see the faults and finances and sins of others quite well.
But, Simon does not really examine his own “statement” , his own life, in terms of the command to love God, love our neighbor and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We are invited to have the same vision – the same review of our lives – which this woman does.
[__05] And, we are all invited to see that our intelligence, ability, even our ability to work, our ability to do our homework, our ability to get grades in school, our ability to pay bills and pay our debts, are part of God’s mercy and love.
And, all of us are called to repentance… even if we only owe a little bit right now.
[__06] It is part of our Catholic tradition to reconcile ourselves . To seek this reconciliation not just monthly or every 2 weeks. But also daily. Every day.
For without reconciliation, our debts tend to grow.
And, time is money. But time is on our side when we turn to Jesus, to hear the Good News, to confess our sins, to come to him with repentance, and reach a zero balance. [__end__]