Readings: 2 Sam 12:7-10,13; Gal 2:16, 19-21; Lk 7:368:3
Royal scandal, blinded by lust, greed and pride are the key words that help to capture the central message of this Sunday. The readings focus our attention on the human drama of sinfulness in the face of the mystery of God’s mercy and forgiveness. In the first reading, we see the dark side of King David, whose actions combined, truly deserve a death sentence. David’s life not only sounds like a Greek tragedy, but also like a modern Hollywood script on a celebrity with one scandal after another. Indeed it sounds like this morning’s latest celebrity gossip. David lustfully seduces Bathsheba the wife of Uria, one of his top generals and sleeps with her. She becomes pregnant, and when David tries to cover up unsuccessfully, he arranges a covert murder of Uria on the battle field. The point of the First Reading is to show us how David is blinded by lust, greed and pride and how God leads him to conversion and forgiveness. The prophet Nathan is sent by God to persuade David to see his guilt. He acknowledges his sinfulness before Nathan, who speaks for God. “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord’. Then Nathan assures David, ‘The Lord for his part, forgives your sin; you are not to die.” In this passage, we have the answer to why we go to confess our sinfulness to a priest like David. We need an assurance in human language to experience God’s forgiveness.
In the Gospel, the mystery of God’s mercy and forgiveness is dramatized in the story of a woman who seeks God’s mercy and forgiveness from Jesus. Besides crashing a dinner party, the woman is willing to break all protocols of Jewish customs by uncovering her head and loosening her hair in public. She does the very opposite of what Simon the Pharisee should have done according to Jewish hospitality. All Simon could do was to express displeasure for Jesus allowing the woman to wash his feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, and anointing them with costly perfume, all symbols of profound love and an expression of real sorrow for her sins. That is why Jesus tells the story of the two debtors that points to the woman’s forgiveness of her many sins. Jesus assures her that her “sins are forgiven…..” and her faith has saved her. Like the story of David and Bathsheba, the story of the woman in the Gospel captures our imagination. What is important is that we see ourselves in the two stories of sinfulness, conversion and forgiveness. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Just as the Lord is quick to forgive David, so too the Lord is quick to forgive us once we acknowledge our sins. 2) God does not condemn or alienate the sinner, but leads them towards repentance and acceptance of mercy. We too must welcome those alienated by the Church, thereby being instrumental of their conversion, forgiveness and reconciliation. 3) The readings give us a summary of the human drama of sinfulness as well as the reason why we need to confess to a priest.
©2016 John S. Mbinda