Saturday, June 15, 2013

Falling Head Over Heels in Love with Jesus!

Reflections on the Readings
June 16, 2013 - Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year C

Falling Head Over Heels in Love with Jesus!

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; 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 ointment. (Luke 7:37-38)

The Readings today begin with the sin and wretched actions of David, the King of Israel. "I have sinned against the Lord," King David confesses. This sweet singer of Israel, the lad who fell the great warrior Goliath, sank into the awful abyss of the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life - deception, adultery, infidelity, and finally murder. Perhaps for just a moment he thought the rules, the commandments, did not apply to him. I've met folks like that, especially in the mirror. 

Far from negating the Law, Jesus said, "For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." Jesus strongly forbade any relaxation of the commandments. Jesus taught the fulness of their meaning explaining, "You have heard it said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire." I hear my name in that word 'whoever.'

Concupiscence is the capacity and propensity we all have to sin against the Lord. The Law marks out the way to live but is unable to give us the power to live as we should. In the Christian understanding, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good. It is a tutor showing us what is right and wrong, but does not give us the grace of the Spirit to fulfill it. (Romans 7:12, 14) It is Paul who teaches us that it is life in the Spirit we need. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2) The Holy Spirit of life transforms us and gives us the power to resist the devil and to pursue love for God and neighbor. In the second reading Paul exclaims, "I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Paul's language is rich and provocative! We may even feel a little put off by his strong words - crucified with Christ - that are not exactly romantic and mushy. But Paul is presenting to us the depth of the newness we need and receive when we put on Christ in baptism. Our deepest seat of rebellion against the God of love is confronted with a greater power. A greater life is given to us; a new life that gives us a new relationship as sons and daughters of the new Adam who loved us and gave himself for us. That my friend is the power and grace and majesty of every baptism we witness.

Paul preaches a Jesus who is able to make us a new creation. If you and I are in Christ, we are a new creation. The old is passing away, and behold, Jesus is making everything about us new. It is this newness the woman of the city receives that we hear about in today's gospel. 

How does this encounter between Jesus and this woman of the streets make you feel? Do you find her adoration of Jesus compelling? Does this scene cause you to reflect on your relationship with Christ? Does this story inspire you to love Jesus more deeply and more intentionally? Are you completely satisfied with where you are in Christ? Or is there a holy gnawing to know Jesus better today than yesterday? To love him more perfectly? To hear his voice in your heart more clearly?

What a Gospel story this is today. This beautiful sinner approaches Christ with humility and adoration. She demonstrates how beautiful are the feet Christ, the Gospel incarnate. When she heard he was at the Pharisees house, she sought for him and found him. When she found him she loved him. And Jesus made her whole and new and alive. Yes he did. Oh, yes he did!

Might we increase in our love for Christ who loved us and gave himself for us?Is it possible to love Jesus too much? I agree with you; I don't think so. He alone takes away our sin so he alone is our life and our joy. Christ alone is worthy of our complete and unending adoration and love. 

The greatest love the world has ever known is the Love that was held to an old rugged cross with nails. Such reproach only increased the reality of that Solitary figure and his love for the whole world. This man who welcomed the little children and hugged them and blessed them loves you and me. He raised the dead, and healed the lepers, and he welcomed this 'woman of the city,' whose sins were many. Jesus received the love she gave him and he gave her a love she'd never known. 

Might we just emulate her a little bit? Perhaps we could linger a little longer and more often in his presence. If we give him more of ourselves we increase in his life and love and mission. Are we aware of his presence? Do we invite his power and grace into our lives and homes and places of play and work? What would be too much attention to Christ and him crucified, buried, and risen? 

The Church is calling us to a new springtime. We are at the threshold of a new evangelization. This new wave of the Spirit includes a new awakening in you and me to the things of Jesus. It is really a call to fall in love with Jesus again for the first time. To love Jesus first again. To fall head over heels in love with Jesus. And then to invite everyone we know to fall in love with him too!

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail him at:   Visit him at:

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