theunfamiliarname

Homily for Ordinary Sunday 11C

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 11:44 am

I have three things I’d like to say about this morning’s Gospel.
They correspond to three camera angles in the cinema of its telling.

There’s a “her”.  There’s a “them”.  There’s a “me”.

First, the “her”: “[She] began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair.”
What does this look like from her perspective?
She seems to ooze and confuse repentance, love, sensuality, service, servitude…
not to mention that we know about another gospel narrative that parallels it.

Whether this is the same act or not in John’s Gospel, with Mary of Bethany,
Luke draws from it a different meaning, and would have us hear that meaning.
How often do we confuse all those feelings and motivations?
Do we try to “work” out our repentance? Live out our love?
In ways that are at best, confused?

God in Jesus welcomes us, defends us.
Notices us and blesses us in that, misguided and misgiven.

Cut to camera two:  “them”:  Jesus’ words, “Do you see this woman?”
Because while Simon and the Pharisees see the scandal and the sinner,
I wonder whether they see a daughter of Eve, of Sarah, and a child of God?

To “love the sinner and hate the sin” is a cliché that few of us get beyond.
What if we looked at people as people.
Children of God.
Would we see more compassionately?
Would we speak less harshly?
Would we glimpse others through the eyes of Christ?
As hurting, vulnerable, capable of love and change – and challenge –
if we might be trust-worthy and prayerfully practical in our approach?

But the most telling point of view is when the observer, the camera catches glimpse of itself in a mirror:
when “me” enters the frame.
The phrase that searches me, and maybe it searches you too:
“the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

We come, Sunday by Sunday, and we acknowledge our sinfulness.
It’s a little unfashionable and uncomfortable, and we get it out of the way at the beginning of the service.
But it’s also there in the prayer Jesus taught: “forgive us our sins, as we forgive…”
Forgiveness is pretty clearly a two way street, let’s not forget: “forgive us our sins, as we forgive…”

Repentance is only a country that can be visited with permission.
For many of us, a foreign land.

Through this gospel story, I am aware of my unconscious rebuff to forgiveness,
either because (A)  I feel I’m doing OK, thank you very much,
and forgiveness is for other people;

or (B)  because I’m being honest, and I’m only too conscious of my sin
and I’m petrified of actually living in a world where I might be other than “how I am”.
How I might live in that strange new world where I was forgiven and I lived as if I believed it.
Where I might love LARGELY rather than little.
What would that world even look like?
If I forgot control and boundaries and all the things life teaches me?

If I simply loved.  Largely.  Fully.
And lived.  Fully.

I like to think I love, but wonder whether I am stunted in my growing towards that.
A “little person” spiritually, nowhere near the full stature of Christ.
If “God is love” and God is the only ultimate reality and existence,
do I ultimately live less, here and in eternity, if I love less?

Remember the great Passion hymn – and that’s an interesting word: Passion –
“my song is love unknown/ my Saviour’s love to me/
love to the loveless shown / that they might lovely be/ O who am I …”.

That is the biggest question put before me today.
And I hope you’ll forgive me for putting it before you.

Let us in the silence listen for the voice of God.

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