11th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C

2 Sm 12:7-10, 13; Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11; Gal 2:16, 19-21; Gospel: Lk 7:36—8:3

How many people here today wear glasses or contact lenses? [[RAISE YOUR HAND]].

Glasses have the power to transform
I know that seems like an odd question to start out a homily with, but it is a subject that I think can help us to reflect on today’s readings. For me, glasses are something that is so minor and trivial that I don’t really ever think about them much, and yet, at the same time, they have transformed my life and my world.

Going to the eye doctor
When I was 12 years old my Dad took me to the eye-doctors for an examination along with my older brother David. The eye doctor had me sit in a chair and put that funky perscription machine in front of my face and try to read the letters off of a chart.

He said – “Cover your eye and read the smallest line on the chart”. I did – I said [[COVERING ONE EYE]] “I…M…B…L…I…N…D…”. [[PAUSE]] “Good”, he said, “and now the other eye and read the smallest line on this chart.” So, I did, I said – “I…O…U…50…BUCKS…” [[PAUSE]]

“Very good he replied”, and he told me that I needed glasses and gave my Dad the bill for $50.


Glasses transformed my world – but I take them for granted
When I put on my new glasses my life was transformed. I could see the world clearly, and ever since then I have always worn glasses day in and day out.

God sends the Eye Doctor (Nathan) to King David so he can see the hurt
In the first reading God sends Nathan the prophet to be an eye doctor for King David. David is blind to his sin, and he does not see the damage he has done to his relationship with God. Nathan shows David that he has sinned, and once David is able to see the hurt that he has caused and the wrong that he has done he is filled with sorrow and repentance. To repent means that we see what Sin has done to our relationship with God.

Just wearing glasses is not enough.
In the second reading St. Paul teaches us the difference between obedience to the Law and the value of faith. For St. Paul, the Law is the ability to know right from wrong – it is essential to our relationship with God, but it is not complete. If the law is a pair of glasses then just wearing glasses is not enough to save us. St. Paul says that it is faith that saves us – by faith, St. Paul means our relationship with Jesus.

Jesus helps us to see the hurt our sin does to our relationship with God.
St. Paul teaches that the reason why Christ came in the flesh was to be out brother and save us from our sin. When St. Paul encountered the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus he came face to face with the effects of his Sin. St Paul understood that it was his relationship (faith) with Jesus that saved him from death to Sin and allowed him to live in the light of God’s love. St. Paul sees the effects of his sin in the skin, flesh and blood of Christ hanging on the cross. The glasses of the Law helped St. Paul to lead a good life, but it is in his relationship with Christ that St. Paul experiences the reality of forgiveness that frees him and transforms his life from one of suffering and misery to one of joy and peace.

Law and Faith; Sin, Repentance and Forgiveness
The Gospel today ties together both of these two themes – The Law and Faith (that is relationship with Christ), and the process of Sin, Repentance and Forgiveness.

Simon wears his glasses but takes them for granted.
There are three people in the Gospel, Simon the Pharisee, the Sinful woman and Jesus. Simon is basically a good man - he is a man who has lived his life with his glasses on. Part of Simon’s sin is that he takes his faith for granted – and he does not allow his relationship with God to transform his heart. Jesus reprimands him for failing to wash his feet or anoint his head. Simon has a false sense of security in his salvation because his focus is on the fact that he wears glasses and not on what he see’s through the glasses.

The Sinful Woman is blind and knows that she needs salvation.
The Sinful Woman on the other hand is blind, her life has been spent in the darkness of sin. What we don’t know from the scriptures is if she had an encounter with Jesus earlier that day that led to this radical display of love and gratitude. Something happened in her relationship with Christ that made her aware of him – perhaps he met her earlier in the day and showed her the truth of her life wrapped in love. Whatever it was, her encounter with Jesus is trans-formative because it makes her aware of how empty her life has been, and of her need for salvation. She becomes painfully aware of Jesus’ ability to bring her from darkness to light, from despair and sin into joy and peace and life. Jesus offers her a way out of the trap of Sin that has destroyed her life. She is first and foremost painfully aware of her sin, and that allows her to be profoundly grateful for the forgiveness that Jesus offers her.

Another angle – The physics of a swing-set or the reality of a swing-set.
Another way of thinking about Simon and the sinful Woman is that Simon understands the physics and mathematics of a person on a swing, but is unable to see where Sin is in his life. Simon could describe the mathematics of a person on a swing but he has never taken the time to examine his own life to see where he is in sin. Simon thinks that because he lives by the law (or for us because we go to Mass) he is immune to Sin and its effects.

On the other hand, the Sinful woman has swung on the swing-set and she is painfully aware of it. She wants to escape from the evil life and knows that it is her relationship with Jesus that can get her out of her life of Sin that is killing her.

Where are we in the story?
Where do we find ourselves in this story? How aware are we of the effects of sin in our life. Do we know the math and lack the personal awareness of our own sinfulness? Who are you in this story? Are you more like Simon, who has fallen become complacent in his faith and stopped examining his relationship with God? [[PAUSE]] If we are then we are more like the person forgiven the debt of 50 days wages rather than 500. Or are we like the sinful Woman – painfully aware of our sin, but perhaps trapped in the effects of our sin, we might feel powerless and a victim of our sin? In either case the Gospel today is good news for us because Christ invites us to his forgiveness, so that we can be free to live a life filled with the presence of God.

Psychologists say that when you want to make a change in your life for the better, then you are 70% more likely to follow through on your commitment to change if you speak to a person about your commitment. As Catholics, this statement is icing on the cake because when we have the sacrament of Confession so that we can hear the words of Christ in our hearts. When we take advantage of the sacrament we have the opportunity to speak with Jesus and hear his healing words – that is the grace of the sacrament – your sins are forgiven. That frees us to live a life of conversion.

Take the Evangelical Eye Exam!
The Gospel this week invites us to take an eye exam – look at our lives and ask ourselves the question. Where am I sinning? Then to really take to heart these readings and consider if we understand our sin like King David, St. Paul, the Pharisee or the Sinful Woman. We are invited to repent and confess our sins so that we can live our life in freedom like a person who has been forgiven a great debt. The day when we can meet that challenge is a day when our entire world will be transformed.

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