11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
Galatians 2:16, 19-21
June 16, 2013
Like all of us, the Jews of Jesus’ time had their “rules and customs.” The Pharisees were among the experts on this.
One of these Pharisees invites Jesus to dine with him, perfectly acceptable behavior. Who won’t want to dine with Jesus?
However, there is someone the Pharisee, in accordance with the customs of the time, would not want to die with, a sinner.
That is exactly what happens. Knowing Jesus was there, here comes this sinful woman. Jews didn’t eat with sinners (I guess that means they ate alone a lot).
What does the woman do? She washed Jesus’ feet, kissed them, and anointed them. These were practices that the customs called for the host to tend to.
She never takes a place of prominence. She knows she is a sinner. In washing and kissing Jesus’ feet, the sinful woman takes a place of humility.
Not everyone recognizes their own sins. The prophet Nathan had to point out David’s own sin to him. David, who already had his own wife, had relations with the wife of Uriah, and then had Uriah killed to cover up the sin.
Without realizing that Nathan was talking about him, David says the sinner must be struck down. Only when Nathan tells him, it is he who is the sinner does David repent.
God forgave David once he repented.
The Pharisee wanted to get rid of the woman because of her sins. Jesus would have nothing to do with that. Instead, he speaks of forgiveness.
The woman showed her faith in what she did for Jesus. The Pharisee showed his own faith when he judged the woman and wanted to throw her out.
The Pharisee did not see his own sin and thus did not repent and thus could not receive forgiveness. The woman admitted her sin and received Jesus’ forgiveness.
Do you want to throw all the sinners out of church? Should we do it right now? Who would be left?
Who are you like?
Are you like the Pharisee who wants to keep the sinners out and claim to follow all the customs even when you don’t? How quick are you to judge?
Are you like Jesus, willing to associate with sinners, willing to forgive sinners?
Are you like the woman, a sinner?
When we recognize ourselves as sinners, what do we do? Do we cover it up like David tried to cover up his sin with the wife of Uriah?
Or maybe we try to do good to make up for the bad? We should always try to do good and when we don’t, we need to be willing to make amends for the wrong we have done.
There is a danger here. It isn’t a question of doing more good than bad. The Law is meant to guide us as we strive to follow Jesus.
The Law describes the works we must do for salvation but the works do not save us. What does Jesus say to the sinful woman and so many others? “Your faith has saved you.”
Faith saves us. Where does that leave our works? Do they matter?
Part of Luther’s theology with the Reformation was to call for “justification by faith”. He felt the Church was putting the emphasis on works.
That was the 16th Century. A few hundred years later, just before the start of the 21st Century, the Lutherans and Catholics came together in accord on this. We are saved through our faith but if we have faith, we will do the works. The works should never be an attempt to earn our way into Heaven. Heaven is a gift from the Father in faith. Works simply flow from the faith.
Is God upset when we sin? Sure, he is our father and wants to see us do good. Today is Father’s Day. We do things to please our earthly fathers. Let us do the same for our heavenly Father.