Eleventh Sunday In Ordinary Time
How much do you want to sacrifice
Points to note
There are two versions to this reading and I have taken the longer one as it is the one with the story of the penitent woman but I have dropped the last paragraph from Ch 8 for brevity.
This has been a rather controversial story due to the nature of the woman and Jesus seeming to condone her past. This, however, is Jesus’ way of turning the world upside down. With Jesus, forgiveness looks not at the past, but at the future. Once a person seeks forgiveness, the past is irrelevant and the forgiveness is received on the promise of future behaviour. The session will focus on such future acts.
An interesting historical note: some recent authors claimed that the Catholic Church has defamed Mary Magdalene throughout history by incorrectly naming her as the prostitute in this story. And has done so as part of a power struggle in which the Popes eventually triumphed over the followers of Mary Magdalene by the third century.
This is what actually happened: You can see from the reading that the penitent woman was not named, though the reading did note her to be a prostitute (or at least, a woman with a bad name). For some reason, very likely because the reference to Mary Magdalene came immediately in the next passage, Pope Gregory in the seventh century, referred to the penitent woman as Mary Magdalene. Even more confusingly, he also referred to Mary, sister of Lazarus as Mary Magdalene. The Church was aware of the error for some time, but being the Catholic Church, only corrected it in the early twentieth century.
So, you can see that the error to make a prostitute out of Mary Magdalene, was made centuries after her death and could not be part of a power struggle in the early church and it was corrected decades before any of these authors has started writing about it.
Acclamation before the Gospel
God loved us when he sent his Son
to be sacrifice that takes our sins away
Explain that Jesus has just begun his final journey to Jerusalem.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke
All: Glory to you O Lord
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears dell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.
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 that is touching him and what a bad name she has.” Then Jesus took him up and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Speak Master”, was the reply. “There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him $5,000 and the other $50. They were unable to pay, so he pardoned them both. Which of them will love him more?” “The one who was pardoned more, I supposed” answered Simon. Jesus said, “You are right.”
The he turned to the woman. “Simon”, he said, “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. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. For this reason, I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love. It is the man who has forgiven little who shows little love.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, “Who is this man, that he even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
What is the gift that you want more than anything else? Let the children bring up their wish list. Focus on the physical gifts that they would want for their birthday, etc. The bigger, the better.
Link this up with the two stories. Start with the second story where the woman who sinned was willing to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair to obtain forgiveness for her sins. Explain that people couldn’t understand what she did, But these were the people who were too proud to do the same.
Contrast this with the first story where the first servant was not even willing to do a little to forgive the second servant even though God forgave him so much. In the biblical times, people often use the imagery of a financial debt to explain spiritual forgiveness. The larger the financial debt the larger the spiritual debt that God had to forgive.
While forgiveness was the objective that is used for this Sunday, the concept can be extended to anything that a person seeks. How much do you want something?