Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday word, 16 Jun 2013

The Faith of Jesus
11 Sunday of the Year C (16 Jun 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Two notes sound forcefully in today’s scriptures: forgiveness and faith. David, the greatest human king of Israel, sinned greatly. The Lord forgave him because of his sincere faith. The gospel fulfilled that scene. A woman, known to be a sinner, received Jesus’ forgiveness because her great love fueled her faith. Jesus recognized it and said to her: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace. Whence came her faith? St. Paul answered that question.

In his Letter to the Galatians St. Paul insisted people enjoy right relationship with God not by external observation of commandments but by response of faith. Their response is in sync with commandments and with ways that are true, gentle, humble and wise.

St. Paul did not make that up. He had met risen Jesus. When Jesus walked the earth, faith was his human response to God. Faith grants God claim over us and all creation, seeing God’s claim as life-giving and creative: life-giving when we cannot control it; creative when all evidence suggests it is not. Jesus responded to God that way. Jesus fulfilled and revealed what commandments pointed: right relationship with God, with others. Pope Francis recently called the commandments “indications for liberty…genuine liberty that Christ taught in the Beatitudes.”1 We use the commandments to help us practice our faith and grow in freedom.

St. Paul had great reverence for the commandments and all they embodied. Anyone who would think that after his encounter with risen Jesus, Paul trashed the commandments and all they embodied misunderstands him. He did not trash them. St. Paul realized their limits: pointing the way is not the same as the way; nor do pointers to the truth reveal the whole truth.

Jesus revealed the whole truth. He was more than a pointer. The witness of Jesus was his constant response to God as the giver of life, the healer of souls and the source of strength in every trial. That response was Jesus’ own faith. The faith of Jesus was total as was Abraham’s.2 Similarly, the sinful woman’s faith fueled her great and tender love toward Jesus, so evident in her tears, her wordless washing and wiping dry his feet

On the faith of Jesus Paul and we model our faith. We direct our faith to Jesus, we place it in Jesus because Jesus and his faith, his human response to God, models our response to God, which is our faith. The measure of our response to God is our response to others; it is often on our lips: God forgive us as we forgive others.

The faith of Jesus, his human response to God, attracted that woman, who washed and dried his feet with her tears. The faith of Jesus drew the Twelve to him. The faith of Jesus drew the women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities to Jesus. All of them were not anonymous; Luke named three. That Luke did not name the woman, who washed and dried Jesus feet with her tears, allows her to represent each of us, whose names and lives are so dear to Jesus, our Creator and Model of faith

Jesus modeled human response of loving fidelity to God. Faith names our response. Christian faith imitates Jesus’ response, his human response to God, the faith of Jesus. Through Jesus Christian faith is gift. It also is action: responding to God through Jesus by their Spirit. The woman who stands for each of us was deeply moved and drawn to Jesus. She received peace and forgiveness and lived an astonishing new life. We, too, welcome Jesus, our life, who has loved [us] and given himself up for [us].

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Allow yourself to grow more aware of the Trinity desiring you to enjoy a share in divine life even as you now live in the flesh. Bask in their gift you.
  • Then ask the woman who loved much to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus about your desire to respond more sincerely to your Creator and Messiah. Ask Jesus to strengthen your commitment to imitate his faith, his human response to God.
  • Resolve to live as one saved by your faith-response, asking Jesus to be your Model and your shelter when life seems too much.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. He gave it to us because it models the way Jesus practiced his faith. When we resolve to make Jesus’ prayer our way of moving through the hours of our day, our choices and even our presence will offer Jesus’ peace to others.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Next week: Baptized into Christ in Galatians and embraced by God

  1. He said that in an 08 June 2013 message “on the art of living through the Ten Commandments.”
  2. Genesis 12. Abraham figures in Galatians 3. Its summary will be proclaimed next Sunday.

Wiki-image of the beginning of the Letter to the Galatians public domain in the U.S. Wiki-image of the woman washing the feet of Jesus: public domain in the U.S.

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