11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The woman in the Gospel, we are told, was forgiven her sins because of her great love.  She was forgiven much, because she loved much.  Then, after her sins have been forgiven, Jesus tells the woman to go in peace because her faith has saved her.  Faith led her to Jesus to seek the forgiveness of her sins and her great love, demonstrated by the outpouring of her tears, won that forgiveness for her.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisee because of his lack of faith.  The Pharisee did not believe in Jesus.  The Pharisee did not think that he had any need of forgiveness.  Several Gospel passages refer to the necessity of acknowledging our need for God’s mercy.  The Pharisees were often scandalized because Jesus associated with sinners: He ate with them, He taught them, He allowed them to touch Him and He healed them.  The Pharisees did not believe that they were sinners, they considered themselves to be righteous and therefore they would have nothing to do with people that they considered sinners.  The reality is that we are all sinners.  If we deny we are sinners, we close ourselves off to God’s forgiveness.  God is always willing to forgive us; there isn’t any sin that we can commit that God would not forgive: if we come to Him with some level of sorrow and ask for His mercy.

The Pharisees justified themselves in their own eyes; they refused to admit that they were sinners and therefore they closed their hearts to God’s mercy.  If we refuse to acknowledge our sins and we refuse to ask God for mercy, we cannot be forgiven.  If we claim to be physically well, a doctor will not treat us even if we are sick; if we claim to be full, no one will give us any food.  It is only when we go to the doctor and tell him that we are not well that he can begin to treat us for our illness.  It is only when we acknowledge our hunger and do something about it that we get something to eat.  The same is true with God.  If we tell God that we do not need Him, if we refuse to admit our absolute dependence upon Him, He will leave us to our own.  And without Him, we can do nothing.  When we come to God, with humility and trust, He will do great things for us.  We should never be presumptuous with God; and yet we, at the same time, we can have great confidence in God’s mercy.  God loves us more than we can imagine and He waits for us to turn away from sin and come to Him.  When we repent from our sin and ask for mercy, God runs to meet us.  There is great rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner.  When we come before God and admit that we need Him that we want Him in our hearts, He will fill us with Himself.  When we rely upon ourselves, our life is full of anxiety and stress.  When we surrender everything to God, then we can find the peace and joy that comes from following the Lord.  Laying our burdens at the feet of the Lord brings us great relief.

Once the woman was forgiven, Jesus told her to go in peace.  When we have been forgiven, there is a great peace that comes to our souls.  Sin drives us away from God; and apart from God, we can never be truly happy.  Sin makes us miserable.  The only way to find true peace and real fulfillment in this world as well as in the life of the world to come is to know, love and serve God.  Apart from God, we will never know true joy.  We were made to love God and to be happy.  True happiness comes from loving God for when we love God with all our hearts, we are not just fulfilling the greatest of all commandments we are doing what we were created by God to do.

How do we practically apply all that I have been saying to our lives?  First of all, it is important for all of us to go to confession regularly.  By going to confession on a regular basis, we root sin out of our lives and open our hearts to God’s mercy and love.  Second, we should pray everyday.  It doesn’t have to be for a long time everyday, but it should be every day.  Even if it is ten or fifteen minutes a day, we should make a commitment to daily prayer.  We cannot have a very good relationship with someone we never talk with.  Do not wait to “find” time to pray: make time for prayer.  Our days easily fill up with all sorts of things.  We need to make prayer a priority in our lives and not allow other things to crowd it out.  Our relationship with God is the most important thing in our lives.  The greatest of all commandments is to love God above all things.  Loving others is the second greatest commandment.  By faithfully fulfilling our vocation in life, we fulfill God’s will for us, to be sure; but that cannot take the place of prayer time.  Third, do not fill up your prayer time with your own words.  Prayer is meant to be a conversation with God, not a monologue.  It is good to tell God all that is on your heart; it is good to ask Him for things, for yourself and for others.  But we also need to spend time listening to what God wants to say to us.  God speaks in the silence; we need to allow Him time to speak to our hearts.

Finally, let us take the Blessed Virgin Mary as our model in this area.  Earlier today [Yesterday] we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Mary meditated upon the Lord in her heart constantly.  She is the patron of this parish and she is the Mother of each one of us.  Jesus gave her to us to be our Mother.  She wants us to love Jesus like she loved Jesus.  Mary leads us to Jesus.  She will help us to come to an ever-deeper relationship with Him, if only we ask for her help.  Mary, Mother of our Savior and our Mother, help us to love Jesus with all our hearts.  Draw us all ever nearer to Jesus; help us to pray to Him and help us to imitate Him in our lives.  Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us!

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