11th Sunday of Ordinary Time C
June 16. 2013
Reading I: 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
This passage fits in neatly not only with the Gospel but also with the second
reading. All three readings proclaim the forgiveness of sin.
The prophet Nathan
acts as a father confessor to David. Nathan had previously stabbed David's conscience
with the parable of the ewe lamb, confronting him with the brutal truth: “You
are the man.” David confesses, “I have sinned against the Lord,” and
Nathan declares that God has put away his sin.
This is the classic Old Testament
statement of the pattern of self-examination in the light of Gods law, followed
by confession of the sin as an offense against God and not merely against another
person (see Ps 51:4: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned”), and concluding
with the confessor's declaration that God has put away the sin.
Responsorial Psalm: 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
Instead of using
the psalm which, according to picturesque tradition, David
sang after his sin with Bathsheba (Psalm
51), we respond
with another of the seven traditional penitential psalms.
is one that Paul used (Rom
4:7-8). preceded by the comment: “So
also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God
reckons righteousness apart from works.”
absolution is, like baptism and the Eucharist, a sacrament
of justification through the grace of Christ alone, apart
from the works of the law.
Reading II: Galatians 2:16, 19-21
This is one of the classic Pauline statements about justification.
To be justified means to be in the right with God. The basic
quest of religion—here Paul, Luther, and Trent are at
one—is to be in the right with God.
Paul had tried to
get himself right with God by keeping the Mosaic law. In his
encounter with Christ, he learned that this justification is
something not to be earned but to he received as a gift through
It is not faith that is the primary cause
of justification but the act of God in Christ, an act described
by Paul as “grace,” sheer unmerited forgiveness
of the sinner. Faith is the subjective condition on the human
side for receiving God's forgiveness.
by faith alone” is shorthand for “justification
by the grace-full act of God in Christ apprehended by the human
being through faith alone.”
That we are justified by faith and not by the works of the law does not mean
that works have no place in the Christian life, for they are the fruit of faith,
The justified sinner now “lives with God.” This new life is a paradox.
Christian puts forth the utmost moral effort, and yet knows that it is not he
or she but “Christ who lives in me” (see the similar paradox in Phil
2:12-13). This paradoxical understanding of the relation between faith and
works should help us to transcend the antitheses of the Reformation.
But is the
message of justification relevant today? Does the contemporary person, like
Luther, seek a gracious God? Is not the modern question,
as Martin Marty
suggests, rather the question whether there is a God at all?
Was Bonhoeffer right
in rejecting the notion that people first have to be made sinners—which
they do not feel themselves to be—before they can hear the gospel?
transcend the dichotomy between the Council of Trent and the Reformation by
saying that both sides were concerned about an obsolete issue? Or is the question
justification not merely one approach to the Christian message but
rather its central concern?
Do we answer that question from an analysis of modern men
women or from a confrontation with the message of the New Testament?
basic issues for contemporary theology, exegesis, and preaching.
Gospel: Luke 7:36–8:3 (long form); 7:36-50 (short form)
The crucial problem of this Gospel is highlighted in the caption: “Her
many sins were forgiven her, because she has shown great love.” Taken at
face value, these words suggest that the woman has earned forgiveness by her
act of devotion and so was justified by works and not by faith.
But a closer
examination of the pericope shows that if this is the correct interpretation,
it contains a glaring contradiction.
The parable of the two debtors, which precedes
our saying, makes love the outcome of forgiveness. To the question “Now
which of (the two debtors] will love him more?” the answer comes, “The
one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.”
Later on it is stated that the
person who is forgiven little, loves little. This means that we can only understand
the woman's action in one way. Her extravagant act of devotion is a sign that
her sins, “which are many,” have already been forgiven.
they forgiven? By Jesus' acceptance of her, sinner though she was.
The long form of the Gospel, with its list of the women who also accompanied
Jesus, might encourage the longstanding but erroneous tradition that Mary Magdalene
was the woman whose many sins were forgiven and who therefore performed the extravagant
act of devotion.
There is nothing in the New Testament to warrant this identification.
our pericope may be a combination of two different incidents—that
of a woman who anointed Jesus and that of a woman who washed his feet with her
tears and dried them with her hair. The latter action is much more a sign of
penitence than the former.
Copyright © 1984
by The Order of St. Benedict, Inc., Collegeville,
Minnesota. All rights reserved. Used by
permission from The Liturgical Press,
Collegeville, Minnesota 56321
Preaching the Lectionary:
The Word of God for the Church Today
Reginald H. Fuller. The Liturgical Press.
1984 (Revised Edition), pp. 476-478.
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