11TH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Here we are at the 11th Sunday of ordinary time and for us here in Ireland we are right bang in the middle of the schools college and university examination season. It is a time of anxiety and annoyance with a lot of frayed nerves with moms and dads trying to get the youngsters to do the revision and they not wanting to do it. We all have been through the exams and we all have got out the other side unscathed and hopefully with reasonable results. In all of this I think that we have to remember that it is not always the exams that count but that we produce well rounded young people who are not afraid of the world and all it will throw at them good bad and in-between.
The “theme” of the First Reading, Psalm and Gospel today is “forgiveness of sins”. We hear the touching Gospel story, of the “woman with a bad name in the town” coming to anoint Jesus’ feet. Living inspired by the love of Jesus is the key to our discipleship – his crucifixion is the sign of his love, which is in itself the forgiveness of sins. A sinner among sinners, Mary Magdalene was greatly loved by Jesus. How could it have been otherwise? If Jesus loves sinners, he does so to love his Father in them and through them. Jesus loves his Father in us and through us! For we are but creatures But, as every man or woman was created in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:27), Jesus, in loving his Father, also loves every man and woman in Him. So Jesus loved Mary Magdalene in loving his Father, that is to say divinely. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, followed the same path as her Son. Indeed, she imitated him, while preceding him in time, having contemplated in advance, in the Old Covenant, the unique model who is the Saviour of men! Thus Mary also loved God above all, in loving he who became her mystical Spouse, the Holy Spirit, during the Incarnation of the Word.
Mary gave herself to God from the first instant of her existence, enlightened and strengthened by the fullness of grace in her. May today’s Holy Communion teach us and help us to love God above all things, through the intercession of Mary Mediatrix We are challenged by the Good News of salvation to imitate God’s desire to forgive. As people who are forgiven, we are called to be forgiving towards ourselves and others. If we refuse to forgive, then we will be unable to value forgiveness when it is offered to us from other people and God. We pray that we will be gracious in accepting forgiveness when it is offered and that we will be generous in forgiving others. Sometimes we think that, unless we forget whatever was said or done that hurt us, we have not forgiven. But forgiveness is about an act of the will — it has nothing to do with the emotions which may remain. And it is not necessarily about forgetting the hurt caused. Forgiveness is about deciding not to be controlled any longer by the effects of the hurt, and not to nurture the grievance which only makes us bitter and angry. On a spiritual level forgiving means recognising that nothing we suffer in this life is equivalent to what Christ, who was totally innocent, suffered and died to secure our salvation. By uniting our sufferings with his suffering, we strengthen our character and our souls. Only then will we be really free people, because only then will we be able to think about or be in the presence of those who have offended us without allowing their damaging behaviour to cause further hurt. The reality is that it is easy for God to forgive sinners because he loves us. The readings for this Sunday underline the importance of our faith–faith in the dying and rising of Jesus Christ for our sins, and faith in the mercy of God toward sinners. God is much more concerned about our faith than He is about our sins! Without faith, David would never have asked for God’s forgiveness. Neither would have the penitent woman of this Gospel, whose great faith and love so pleased Jesus. Without faith, we cannot expect to enter heaven so in faith let us continue our faith journey as the beloved people of God forgiven and restored .