Friday, June 28, 2013

Fashionably Late? (2013-06-16)

This is my homily for  June 16 2013, (11th Sunday and U.S. Father's Day).   I am a Catholic chaplain at  Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU, Teaneck),   FDU Newman Catholic Association,  New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City.  At FDU, Sunday Evening Mass resumes,  August 25, 2013 @ 5:00 pm at  FDU Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck. ***

 [__01__]    On certain formal occasions, the entrance – and the timing of one’s entrance – is very important.

This would include -- Commencement,  Graduations, Weddings.

We even attend rehearsals, striving for punctuality. We try not to keep others waiting.

A delay could mean trouble.

Or – is it Good News to be delayed ?

[__02__]    From the Gospel this Sunday, we read that Simon the Pharisee has invited Jesus, our  Savior, to dinner at a specific time and place.

Jesus would have been the main guest – the guest of honor – and could not have been late. The celebration starts after his arrival.

Then, an unexpected guest – a woman known publicly for his sinful past – arrives.

If this were purely a report about the notable people of Jerusalem, one in which guest are photographed on red carpets arriving at mansion or theatre, we might then say the woman is fashionably late, intentionally delayed to make an impression.

But there are no paparazzi. And, this is not exactly Jay Gatsby’s mansion.    

Is it Good News to be delayed?

[__03__]    For Simon the Pharisee, No, it is not Good News.

Simon the Pharisee believed this woman should have repented long ago, or perhaps should never have fallen into sin in the first place.

This was no joyous reunion for the guest stuck in bridge traffic.

Simon’s perception leads to the prophecy of Jesus, the interpretation of Simon’s thoughts by our Lord …

Jesus reads Simon’s thoughts and reveals them through the parable about 2 persons in debt for different amounts, one with a very large balance … the other a very small balance.

One scholar observes:  “While Simon silently condemns Jesus for not divining the character of the woman, Jesus proves himself a prophet by reading the secret thoughts of Simon [the Pharisee].”[1]

[__04__]     Is it Good News to be delayed?

For Jesus, for you for me, the delay is Good News.

Our Savior offers us the sacraments and the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, also for our debts, our sins.

The Lord also offers us this sacrament for our delay tactics, knowing that we might take a while to come around to confession.

[__05__]    Isn’t this true in our relationships with others? For example, are we not also striving to grow in forgiveness and mercy towards others?

We may striving to forgive the faults of family members, of a spouse, a friend, a child, a friend.

Not everyone will ask forgiveness according to our screen of arrival / and / departures. There may be air-traffic, bridge, or tunnel delays.

In some cases, we are also called to forgive the faults unknown to the person committing them. This is a further delay.

And, sometimes, it is just as difficult – or more difficult – to accept the expression of contrition – to accept an apology – than to deliver an apology.

[__06__]             On this Father’s Day, we can also give thanks – in prayer or in person – for gift  of our fathers, for their mercy, forgiveness, for their efforts to understand us, especially when we were delayed – fashionably nor unfashionably.

[__07__]            In this  Gospel, we are reminded that the Lord waits and endures our delay.

The delay is Good News, with our freedom is all the greater, and the celebration and feast at the table all the stronger, receiving his forgiveness and invitation to go in peace.

[1] Jerome Biblical Commentary, 44:76,  “Luke 7:36-50, The Penitent Woman”. Regarding Luke 7:40, the commentator writes: “While Simon silently condemns Jesus for not divining the character of the woman,Jesus proves himself a prophet by reading the secret thoughts of Simon [the Pharisee].”

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