Tag Archives: 11 Sunday in Ordinary time

12 June 2016: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
2 Sm 12:7-10, 13 Ps 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11 Gal 2:16, 19-21 Lk 7:36-8:3

 

Forgiveness: our unmerited gift from God

Green_banner_sm¬†During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ stories and teachings from his everyday ministry. This week’s readings ask us to reflect on God’s unmerited forgiveness and our response.

In the first reading from the book of Samuel, the prophet Nathan confronts King David about his adultery with Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba). David immediately recognizes his failing against God and against the community. Nathan tells David “the Lord has forgiven you:” God’s forgiveness comes before David’s personal acknowledgement of his moral lapse. (See the second reading and gospel.)

The second reading continues Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This reading outlines Paul’s view of God’s forgiveness. Religion’s goal is to make us “right” with God. Paul, an observant Jew, had tried to be right with God by following Mosaic law. However, after encountering the risen Jesus, he understood that being right with God was a gift from God, not something he could earn through his own “works of the law.” God alone justifies us (makes us righteous), we cannot justify ourselves. If the law were able to justify and save, then there would have been no need for God to take human form and suffer death.

Luke’s gospel is also about God’s forgiveness. Jesus’ radical forgiveness, including welcoming sinners and eating with them, scandalized the religious leaders. Simon the Pharisee invites Jesus to a meal in his house to entrap or to embarrass Jesus. He offers Jesus none of the required hospitality gestures: greeting his guest with a kiss, providing water to wash his feet and hands, offering oil to anoint (moisturize) his hands and face. Instead, the uninvited woman, who recently received Jesus forgiveness, provides Jesus hospitality. Her actions result in:

  • A parable. Jesus tells Simon a parable about a creditor and two debtors. The parable’s context suggests that Jesus is the creditor, the larger debtor is the woman, and the smaller debtor is Simon. Jesus has already forgiven both their debts. Who loves more? The woman’s love causes her to act; Simon’s lack of love results in his lack of action.
  • Discipleship. Luke gives his model for discipleship:
    1. Discipleship begins with a personal encounter: Who is Jesus? We either hear the good news and have faith or reject his message.
    2. The good news is God’s unmerited forgiveness (Paul calls this grace). Faith allows us to recognize that God’s unmerited forgiveness has made us right with God (Paul calls this justification). This is why Jesus tells the woman, “Your faith has saved you.”
    3. God’s forgiveness moves us to love.
    4. Both faith and love require us to act: to change our hearts and minds (metanoia) and to follow Jesus (become disciples).

Today’s readings remind us that God’s kingdom is not a meritocracy: we don’t earn or deserve admittance. God’s grace comes before we even ask for it. Faith helps us see God’s gift. Now we must act. Like the sinful woman, we can choose love, metanoia, and discipleship; or, like Simon, we can stand with our hands in our pockets and do nothing. We are already forgiven. What is our response?

—Terence Sherlock

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14 June 2015: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Ez 17: 22-24 Ps 92: 2-3, 13-14, 15-16 2 Cor 5: 6-10 Mk 4: 26-34

 

Seeds, bushes, trees, and the hidden, mysterious kingdom

This week the liturgical season returns to Ordinary time, the part of the liturgical year outside of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. We count these Sundays by ordinal numbers, and the Lectionary presents RCIA participants and all believing community members with stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. In Ordinary time, the first reading and gospel reading carry the theme for the week. The second reading is usually a continuing reading from Paul’s letters. This week Jesus tells parables about how God will reign the world.

The first reading is from the prophet Ezekiel, who comforts the Hebrew people during their exile in Babylon. In an earlier passage (Ez 17:1-21) before today’s reading, Ezekiel uses the image of a tree to describe the Hebrew people’s rejection of God, and their defeat and exile in Babylon. In today’s reading God promises to restore David’s line (“tree”) when the Hebrews return to the promised land (“on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it”). God tells the people that this new Davidic king will not simply restore Israel’s pre-exile glory, but will create a true messianic kingdom for all nations (“birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it”).

Mark’s gospel presents Jesus telling two parables about God’s kingdom. A parable is a story with a twist that makes a single point. In the first parable, God’s kingdom is like a seed that a farmer plants. Days and weeks pass, and the hidden seed grows mysteriously–not by the farmer’s efforts, but by God. Jesus tells us the kingdom is already here, hidden but growing. In the second parable, God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed. The mustard seed starts small but grows into a large bush, large enough to shelter many birds. Jesus tells us the kingdom has small beginnings in each disciple, but will grow to include all nations (see God’s promise about the messianic kingdom in the first reading).

In today’s second reading Paul is thinking about what happens to those who die before Jesus returns (the parousia, or Second Coming). As humans, we live in physical bodies (“are at home”) that separate us from the risen, glorified Christ. In physical bodies, we know the risen Christ only by faith, since Jesus no longer has a body we can see. Faith tells us that when we die (“leave our bodies”) we will see and be with the resurrected Christ. While we remain in physical bodies, we should live as Jesus lived (“aspire to please him”) so that when we meet the glorified Jesus (“appear before the judgement seat”), he will recognize us as his disciples (“receive recompense”).

Today’s readings remind us that the kingdom isn’t a place, but a time when God rules the world. Ezekiel proclaims God’s promise to create a messianic kingdom; Jesus fulfills this promise when he teaches about the kingdom, which he inaugurated through his death and resurrection. Even though God grows the kingdom in hidden and mysterious ways, Paul reminds us that we participate and cooperate in bringing forth the kingdom through our faithful discipleship. Are we growing the kingdom? Is our faith growing in the kingdom? Are we open to the mystery?

—Terence Sherlock

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