Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 9-17-20

Homily for Ordinary Time-24th Week Thursday, 9-17-20, Year A – St. Bellarmine -Optional Mem (1542 – 1621, Bishop in Italy – Member of SJ – Doctor of the Church

READINGS: 1st Reading 1 Cor 15:1-11, Gospel Lk 7:36-50

Theme: Conversion Through Forgiveness

In the first reading we get a look at who St. Paul really is through his own admission, i.e. who he was and who he became.

St. Paul was a great sinner in the eyes of the Lord prior to his conversion. But Jesus came to him, recognized what he had done and forgave him. He was converted to the truth and changed his ways forever.

Without Jesus’ example of forgiveness for some of the greatest crimes we can commit to each other as Saul did, we would not have the chance at redemption either.

Because of the kind act of the Jesus, Saul was converted and became Paul – our great evangelizer among the Gentiles. This was only possible through the forgiveness given him through Christ.

In the Gospel, Jesus too speaks of the same thing regarding the sinful woman.

We can only surmise that she had committed great sin in plain site of the people in her town. She had a reputation, yet no one gave her the time of day, not even the Pharisee who is supposed to be a spiritual leader for them.

Jesus points out that we must not judge someone based on their past actions or transgressions.

Forgiveness is the path toward healing and redemption, but if no one offers forgiveness, that person may never find that path.

Jesus, on the other hand, offers her a chance to see the light in Him shining on the path toward conversion and redemption. In that moment, the truth was revealed for her and she knew the direction she had to go. 

What did the Pharisee offer the woman? Nothing. Nothing but condescending remarks about her character to those around him. There was no path toward redemption for her in his eyes. So, who is committing the greater sin here, the woman who recognized her sin and accepted forgiveness and changed her ways, or the one who’s mind was closed and did nothing to help his neighbor?

We must be careful not to judge, even when the thought is only in our minds; it builds a wall that prevents us from ever offering a path to conversion and redemption for that person.

This is especially important in today’s times where we as a people are so divided on issues. It is very easy for us to judge our neighbor based on their opinions, beliefs, or the way they live their lives and just shut them out.

I encourage each us, myself included, to think of the times when we were forgiven or saved from some sin and put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes. What would it mean to them if rather than criticizing and judging, we gave forgiveness and love instead?

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL