Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Thursday – Twenty-fourth week – OT1
Readings: 1 Tm 4:12-16; Lk 7:36-50.
Reading 1 (1 Tim 4:12-16)
Beloved: Let no one have contempt for your youth,
but set an example for those who believe,
in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.
Do not neglect the gift you have,
which was conferred on you through the prophetic word
with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.
Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them,
so that your progress may be evident to everyone.
Attend to yourself and to your teaching;
persevere in both tasks,
for by doing so you will save
both yourself and those who listen to you.
RSV Luke 7:36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
I. THEME: Be faithful until the end.
Be faithful until the end is not easy, many people gave up when they faced difficulties and sufferings; for examples: many couples, even Catholics, chose divorces even though they took the vow before God that they will be faithful until the end; many religious brothers and sisters and priests chose to break their vows to return to their former lives.
Today readings give us advices and ways to be faithful. In the first reading, St. Paul adviced Timothy to live worthy with his episcopos’ vocation which God has called him and the Church bestowed on him. He must live in a way that people will trust him in words and deeds, must build everything on the foundation of God’s words, and be always conscious about the mission he has to accomplish. In the Gospel, Jesus does not only say he loves people, but he shows them the depth of his love by being nailed to the cross. He is faithful to carry out his Father’s plan until the end to redeem people. Beside Jesus, there are Mary, his mother, the beloved disciple, and many other women who followed him until he gives up his spirit on the cross.
1/ Reading I: The important virtues of catholic leaders
1.1/ He must be mature: When choosing a leader, people have a tendency to select the one who is old aged, mature, and experienced. The case of Timothy is exceptional; he became an episcopos when he is still young. Therefore, St. Paul advises him: “Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe.” To achieve this, Timothy needs to train himself to become a trustful person:
(1) In words: He must be careful in speaking in order for others believing what he said. Do not say one thing and do other thing; do not quickly promise, if he promised, he must keep his word; do not say useless things; do not say things that cannot be backed up by arguments. In a word, he must speak the truth.
(2) In ways to behave: He must behave rightly to all, respect elders, yield to younger, and be careful in contact with women.
(3) In charity, faith, and chastity: He must love all people, be faithful in his vocation and relationships, and has a pure mind.
1.2/ He must build his life and community on the foundation of God’s words: Every science or career has an area to learn and to deepen. The proper area of catholic leaders is the Scripture.
(1) Pay attention to learn Scripture: Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of God (St. Jerome). If a pastor does not know Scripture, how can he talk about God to his people? When the pastor did not know well Scripture, he has tendency to talk about other things he knew and these things has no relation to God’s word.
(2) Use Scripture to teach and to correct: When preaching, the preacher must preach God’s words, not his words or other people’s words. He must give God’s word an ultimate place, because only God’s word has power to save and to set people free.
(3) Use Scripture to solve people’s problems: A catholic leader is not a psychologist or a socialist. Although knowledge of these fields can help in solving problems, but first and foremost, a catholic leader must use God’s word to help people to solve their problems.
1.3/ Be conscious about one’s vocation: An often reflection will help a catholic leader to know:
(1) He was sanctified for God: St. Paul says: “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.” A catholic leader must try to sanctify oneself, before he can help to sanctify others.
(2) He must be jealous with his vocation: St. Paul advises Timothy: “Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone.” A catholic leader must often examine oneself to see if he still has the eagerness of the beginning, since time and confrontations easily wear out his eagerness.
(3) He must set a good example and fulfill his duties: “Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” Word is just drawing attention; deed is what making people to believe. A life of witness is a powerful sign for a catholic leader to witness for God.
2/ Gospel: “The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
We try to skim through the attitudes of three main characters in today Gospel. First, Simon. The fact that he invited Jesus to his house is rare because he is a Pharisee, the kind of people who often criticized Jesus’ teaching and behaviors. The Gospel didn’t give a reason for his invitation of Jesus. He was surprised about the sinful woman’s presence in the table. Next is the woman, she is a courage woman. She knew her sinful life and also knew those who live in a city knew who she is. She must also knew who is Jesus so she can have courage to express her repentance without fearing of his rejection. Last is Jesus, he let the woman do all weird things under the host and the guests’ scrutinizing eyes and forcefully dedended her.
2.1/ Jesus criticized Simon’s way of welcoming him: Under Simon’s eyes, Jesus became unclean because he let the sinful woman touch him. He also suspected of Jesus’ power by questioning in himself: “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus saw through his mind and he politely gave an example of two debtors: one who owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. The readers are easy to recognize that Jesus was reminding both Simon and the woman are sinners before him, and both also need his loving forgiveness. The woman’s sins are clear while Simon’s sin is the sin of pride. He considered himself as the righteous and had a right to judge other. Jesus’ question for Simon implied that he wanted to emphasize on love, not the sins of those who were forgiven: The one who is forgiven much shall love much.
2.2/ Jesus praised the woman’s way of welcoming him: Jesus compared Simon’s and the woman’s way of welcoming him. Jesus was Simon’s important guest; his way of welcoming Jesus didn’t show that he was welcomed Jesus as an important guest. While the woman is only the passer-by, she welcomed Jesus in a way that never happened in the history of humankind: “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 tears and 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 forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
To reward for the woman’s loving and courage acts, Jesus said to her: “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should not take vow to God so easily and quickly. Once we did, we must be loyal to our vow until the end even we must accept pain, suffering, even death.
– In order to be loyal, we must learn Scripture to find out and to live according to God’s standard, not worldly standards.
– Everyone has a mission from God to accomplish. We must find out what is it and try the best to complete this mission. If we are faithful to God, He is also faithful to us.