Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Sinful Woman, and a Saving Faith

Had a chance to look over the reading for this Sunday last night. I just have a couple quick thoughts. The reading is Lk 7:36—8:3, but what caught my attention were verses 44-50:

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,“Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,but she has bathed them with her tearsand wiped them with her hair.You did not give me a kiss,but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.You did not anoint my head with oil,but she anointed my feet with ointment.So I tell you, her many sins have been forgivenbecause she has shown great love.But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”The others at table said to themselves,“Who is this who even forgives sins?”But he said to the woman,“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
In the last line Jesus tells the woman, “Your faith has saved you”. This woman was saved, but there was no alter call, no sinner’s prayer, not even any emotionally moving background music! While there may be nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, they are only the possible beginnings of faith and not an end in themselves. This woman’s faith that "saved her" was demonstrated without her speaking a single word.

What we do see is a woman who, knowing she is a sinner, seeks out the Savior. She had a sincere sorrow of heart prompted by God's grace obvious through her humble actions and obvious sorrow. The woman washes, kisses, and annoints Jesus’ feet, not out of payment or debt owed, but out of “great love”.

The woman in the story displays her faith firstly by trusting in who Jesus was. At the risk of ridicule and scorn, she sought Him out, even having the courage to enter the house of a Pharisee. She begins the story with humility.

The woman then displays her faith through her sorrow for her past sins and her desire to serve Jesus. Both of these actions are born from the love that she has for Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1814 says:
Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God." For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."
How can we imitate the actions of this woman?

In our lives, we trust who Jesus is by seeking Him out in humility. Living a life of prayer and devotion, and educating ourselves and others (remember the kids!) in the areas of the faith where we are able. And always (as painful as it is for myself) in HUMILITY!

We wash Jesus’ feet with our tears and receive forgiveness of our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Sacrament shows our desire to reconcile with God what we have lost through sin, and to be absolved from those sins.

But how are we to anoint and kiss the feet of Christ? In Matthew 25:31-40 we find out:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
We serve Christ through our acts of charity towards those He loves. Sometimes this can be a little difficult, but it’s never impossible.

We are called to show our love for Jesus through sorrow for our sins, trust in who He is, and in service to Him through acts of loving service toward the “least of our brothers”.

After all, a living faith works through charity.

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