|The Woman Who Washed the Lord's Feet with Her Tears. Cathedral Sint-Salvador, Brugge, Belgium. Photo by Javier Carro. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)|
I was tempted to stop him, and do my homily before the readings.
If I had done that, I might have invited you, as you listened,
to see what all these people are like.
One of them is you. Which one?
Are you Nathan?
Have you ever had to confront someone about wrongdoing?
Maybe an employee or a coworker, or a member of your family?
I wonder if Nathan thought about his own sinfulness
as he denounced King David?
Are you David? Someone with power over other people?
One of the things we don‘t like to think about or face,
is that our sins are never really private.
They always affect someone else--more than we can imagine.
Are you Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba? She was a victim--
yet like so many victims of this sort of crime,
people try to say it was really her fault.
She had every reason to be bitter.
When we’ve been wronged, it’s easy to become bitter.
But when we refuse to forgive,
and we harbor that bitterness,
it isn’t the guilty who suffers,
but we help inflict punishment on ourselves.
So: here’s an important point about forgiving those who wrong us.
It isn’t that they are let off the hook;
it’s that we decide to let go of the fishing-pole.
We let go--we give it to God. Let God deal with that person.
Are you the woman in the Gospel with the lovely hair?
The Gospel doesn’t tell us what sort of sinner she was;
but people are always curious. Isn’t that just how it always is?
Maybe it doesn’t say because it doesn’t matter.
Some people’s sins are on the inside, they don’t get stared at,
the way Simon stared at this woman--whose sins were very public.
The good news is, no matter what our sin, or our history,
we can always go to the Lord--in the sacrament of confession--
to be forgiven and restored.
The Pharisees don’t go to confession; they stand outside,
staring, and assuming…
But Jesus is in the confessional!
Don’t let the stares or assumptions of others keep you away,
just like this women didn’t let anything keep her from coming to the Lord!
Are you Simon?
Are you angry because it seems like people “get off so easy”?
Do you find it hard to forgive?
If there’s one thing the Lord is saying here--so simple but so hard:
It’s easier to forgive when we see ourselves,
not as the judge, not as the prosecutor,
Not as the defense attorney,
And not as someone at home, watching on TV--
but as that guilty person who’s on trial.
Can you see yourself as Saint Paul? Not the Saint Paul the Apostle,
but Paul the persecutor? Paul the colossally wrong?
Paul the angry and vicious? Paul, who helped murder Saint Stephen?
This is why the sacrament of confession is so important--
and there is no one, not a single person, who doesn’t need it, often:
(Priests!--most of all!):
And the reason is because it ensures that we know--
not just in our heads but in our being--what it is to be forgiven.
The more we are forgiven; the more we can forgive.