Sunday, 13 June 2010
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Shaftesbury
Lk 7:36-50; 2 Sam 12:7-10,13
Friday was feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus, this month of June is month of Sacred Heart. Our readings today pick up on SacHrt themes: love, sin, forgiveness, repentance, acts of love, acts of reparation.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart comes us to largely via visions to St Margaret Mary in 17th Century France. These visions were signs of the love God bears towards us.
SIGNS of Gods love for us are very important. We all have such signs, but we can either see them or fail to see them.
St Thomas Aquinas says that to love someone means to wish the good of that person, in particular, to wish specific goods for that person.
I fail to see the signs of God’s love for me when I focus instead on the things that seem to indicate that God does not love. I can want better health, better appearance, more money. And, if God wanted to, I could have a body like Rambo, a face like Brad Pitt, an IQ like Einstein, and I could win the lottery, tonight, and even England could win the World Cup.
God could give me all these things. He has given me none of them.
If God loves me, why has He not given me the goods I have just listed?
This is not a stupid question. It’s a question people ask in many different forms.
The reason God has not given me a good like possessing an IQ like Einstein is that He wishes to give me DIFFERENT goods, goods that FOR ME are incompatible with being Einsteinian (if that’s a word). I’m pretty sure that if I had such an IQ I would be insufferably arrogant and proud, that my pride would be an insufferable and impenetrable barrier for me loving God, that I would spend eternity in the blazing fires of Hell. So if God gave me such a gift, it would hardly be a sign that He loved me.
St Thomas Aquinas also says that the most important goods are spiritual goods. These are most important because they last forever.
But even such spiritual goods are not all equal. Some are more pivotal than others.
The greatest good is Heaven itself. I don’t possess that, but I hope to one day.
There is another good, a good we witness twice in our readings, a good that is the precondition for getting to Heaven: and that is the good of forgiveness.
I do not deserve Heaven. I often think I do. But the simple truth is that I have often sinned, and each sin makes me unworthy of Heaven.
But God has offered me that great spiritual good of forgiveness. A good that makes the possession of Heaven possible. A good, more than any other good in this life, a good that shows me He loves me.
The gift of such a good from God calls for us to give something in return.
David, after he repented of his sin, knew he needed to make amendment for his sins.
The woman with the alabaster jar, she had sinned, sinned so much that scripture simply recorded her as “a sinful woman in the city”. Yet Jesus forgave her. And she wanted to do some small thing back to Him, to anoint Him. Why? Because she loved Him.
Jesus pointed out in that parable that she loved much because she had been forgiven much. She KNEW the greatness of her NEED to be forgiven.
ALL of us NEED to be forgiven, even though our awareness of it varies. Love follows that awareness, love seeks to return the love God has shown us in the tenderness His Sacred Heart has revealed to us.
We each need to think of that woman known only as “a sinful woman in the city”, and realise that that is how the angels in Heaven could be looking at us. Unworthy wretches. It is only if we see ourselves in that woman that we can see the greatness of the gift of forgiveness.
To come back to the question of the SIGNS of His love for us. Its very easy to get distracted by thinking of other goods we’d like. But the ONE real good we need is on offer to each of us. The love of His Sacred Heart as manifested in His forgiveness.
In His vision to St Margaret Mary, Jesus said, “I will bless the home I which my heart is exposed and honoured”. The honour He calls us to pay is to love Him back.
Posted by Fr. Dylan James, Catholic Priest in West Moors, England at 00:26