Sunday, 16 June 2013

Loved in sinfulness: Readings for Father's day, June 16 2013

The American Liturgical calendar has set today as the feast day for St Jean Francois de Regis, a Jesuit Saint of the 17th century who is the Patron Saint of the French Province in the Society of Jesus. However,  this appears to be strictly an American date  for the celebration of his feast day, as the official one is in September. I don't have a substantial back up Saint for the day, but seeing that it's Father's day, I figured I'd pick a Saint of the day that had a connection to our joyous celebration of Fathers -I'm skyping with mine in about an hour's time. How lovely!!-.   As it were...two obscure 6th century saints fit the bill:

St. Felix & Maurus whose feast day is today, and who died in the
  6th century are Palestinian pilgrims, father, and son who  journeyed to Rome 
and settled in San Felice, in central Italy. I originally couldn't find much else about 
them online about...then I stumbled on this site with an actual picture of these 
obscure saints:

The legend behind this father (Maurus) and son ( Felix) takes place in fact, not in
 Palestine as Catholic.Org indicated,but in  Cesarea and Laodicea  (Modern day Turkey). 
They were part of a Christian community that sought Martyrdom ( why anyone 
would openly 'seek' martyrdom is beyond me...but we read in many Saints 
biography that this disregard for one's life out of love for Jesus is not 
uncommon among our Saints!). But rather than becoming Martyrs they found a  village in Italy
 to settle in which had been apparently tormented by a Dragon. Maurus got his
 manly-man act on and cut the dragon to pieces. Later Felix was known to perform
 miracles like healing the sick and other fun stuff.  Legend has it that the
 Church/abbey  Abbazia di SS Felice di Narco was built by Maurus on the site where
 Felix and his nurse would have died and that " The crypt of this church contains
 an ancient sarcophagus that is said to hold the remains of SS Felix and Maurus."  
(source: Key to Umbria hagiographical and historical website.)
Daily Readings
  One of my concerns with this blog is that I will start repeating myself a little bit in my ideas around the reading. It's something to look out for, though not something I should feel completely awful about. Even our beloved pope Francis repeats himself a lot. Some ideas are just worth repeating!!  
  Earlier this week, I mentioned St. John of Sahagun, who challenged many of Catholics of his time to renew themselves by confronting their sinfulness. I mentioned this was not a popular theme today -one wonders if it ever was 'popular- because, let's face it, as I stated in  Wednesday's entry, nobody likes dealing with their 'sinfulness'...never mind being told  by a priest that they're sinful. And that's a shame that we're so resistant to this, that are hearts are so shut off from the humility required to face our sins. It's an integral part of the process of receiving God's grace. Why is that? well because, when we recognize how broken we really are, we're more open to our need for God's saving love and grace. See, accepting we're sinful is not beating ourselves up over our imperfections (it used to be. I think that's why there's such a large number of 'recovering Catholics' today. We played the 'you horrible evil sinner' angle too emphatically in the past!). But it's not about blaming ourselves for being's about recognizing where we stumble, and that in our stumbling, we need help to grow.  As a Parish priest said today, no saint is free from Sin. What makes them saints is not sinlessness, but an ability to let themselves be loved, even in the state of sin and imperfection.
 And the theme of today's readings. IT's rare that all 4 readings on Sunday are in sync and are speaking of the same thing, but today they are. We start with David. Anyone who knows their Bible well doesn't need to be told how many sins, and crimes King David  committed. But in a nutshell: Not only did he covet  another man's wife (Betsheba) , but he also had the other man (Urriah) killed so that he could be with this woman. So, adultery and murder then!! Not too shabby for the guy who is reported to have written all these wonderful Psalms to God. 
 In today's reading from 2nd Samuel, David is being reminded of his sins  by Nathan, the prophet of God. He's reminded how much he's been given, and how little he's given back in return. David feels the grief of his sin and crime, but God won't let him carry guilt. All God expected from him was an open hearted recognition of his imperfection, his frailty (moral weakness) so that in a state of weakness, he could be open to receiving  strength  from God. Again, I feel that even this idea is not one people would like very much. But for me it's very liberating. I can look at my imperfections as an opportunity for growth with complete freedom. Freedom for me by the way, is a recognition that I can't do it all alone. I'm independent, (or like to pretend that I am) but I'm human and limited as well. I will need the help and support of others, and above all, I will need the love and strength of God to carry on. 

 It's a similar sentiment that is expressed by David and the woman in the Gospel story, though the woman's experience of humility far exceeds anything that most people would be comfortable with. Still, put yourself in her shoes:  Imagine that, all your life, people label you as a sinner, an evil person, someone to be despised, ignored and avoided. Then comes this preacher, this man whose eyes are filled with love that tells everyone  'your sins are forgiven. You have been renewed. do not sin again'. He may be saying these words to the entire crowd, but you feel that they're directly personally to you, and your heart melts.  Here comes this teacher, offering you nothing but love, and provides you with a tangible expression  of God's loving care for you expressed through a genuine forgiveness of everything bad you've ever done. Like David, the woman at the banquet is being reminded of the depth of that love that no sin can ever erase. 

 Both were unafraid to face their sense of guilt, both were renewed by this idea that it was not Guilt that God had to offer them, but forgiveness and love. But Jesus goes even further. He reminds Simon the Pharisee that the reason why he's offended by Jesus' attitude towards the woman, is that Simon and other Pharisees have forgotten what it was like to feel indebted to God...they have their laws and their rituals that they think solidify their relationship with God, but in the meantime, they never confront this notion of what it means to carry sin within us, and how much more powerful is God's forgiveness and love that he overlooks that sin and still embraces us. They in short -like many today- are afraid to contemplate the depth of God's love for us.  Maybe it makes them uncomfortable to know that they owe God so much, that after all God's done for us, He still continues to offer himself to us every day of our lives. We are constantly, surrounded by his grace, mercy, healing and love. This may sound overwhelming, but when you think about it, wouldn't any parent give this kind of attention to their child? No matter what we do, we'll always be beloved by our parents. And if it's true for them, how much more so for God!!
 Happy father's day!

Reading 1, Second Samuel 12:7-10, 13

7 Nathan then said to David, 'You are the man! Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, "I anointed you king of Israel, I saved you from Saul's clutches,
8 I gave you your master's household and your master's wives into your arms, I gave you the House of Israel and the House of Judah; and, if this is still too little, I shall give you other things as well.
9 Why did you show contempt for Yahweh, by doing what displeases him? You put Uriah the Hittite to the sword, you took his wife to be your wife, causing his death by the sword of the Ammonites.
10 For this, your household will never be free of the sword, since you showed contempt for me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite, to make her your wife."
13 David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against Yahweh.' Nathan then said to David, 'Yahweh, for his part, forgives your sin; you are not to die.

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
1 [Of David Poem] How blessed are those whose offence is forgiven, whose sin blotted out.
2 How blessed are those to whom Yahweh imputes no guilt, whose spirit harbours no deceit.
5 I made my sin known to you, did not conceal my guilt. I said, 'I shall confess my offence to Yahweh.' And you, for your part, took away my guilt, forgave my sin.Pause
7 You are a refuge for me, you guard me in trouble, with songs of deliverance you surround me.Pause
11 Rejoice in Yahweh, exult all you upright, shout for joy, you honest of heart.

Reading 2, Galatians 2:16, 19-21

16 have nevertheless learnt that someone is reckoned as upright not by practising the Law but by faith  in Jesus Christ; and we too came to believe in Christ Jesus so as to be reckoned as upright by faith in Christ and not by practising the Law: since no human being can be found upright by keeping the Law.
19 In fact, through the Law I am dead to the Law so that I can be alive to God. I have been crucified with Christ
20 and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me. The life that I am now living, subject to the limitation of human nature, I am living in faith, faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I am not setting aside God's grace as of no value; it is merely that if saving justice comes through the Law, Christ died needlessly.

Gospel, Luke 7:36-50

36 One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee's house and took his place at table,
37 suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment.
38 She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of person it is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.'
40 Then Jesus took him up and said, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' He replied, 'Say on, Master.'
41 'There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty.
42 They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?'
43 Simon answered, 'The one who was let off more, I suppose.' Jesus said, 'You are right.'
44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.
45 You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.
46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
47 For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.'
48 Then he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'
49 Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, 'Who is this man, that even forgives sins?'
50 But he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'

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