BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo


HOMILY: * 1 Cor 15: 1 – 11, Lk 7: 36 – 50.

Our attitude to sin and about sin / sinners makes us either pharisaic or not. There are two major attitude to sin or about sin; one is to deny it and the other is to accept it. I want to break them into smaller categories:
(1a) Denial of sin; Those who think that they are not sinners either because they don’t understand the nature of sin/ faults and crime or they don’t realize and accept their human weaknesses.
(1b) Denial of possibility of repentance/ forgiveness; Those who think that they can no longer stop sinning and/ or that God can no longer forgive them.
(1c) Neglect of the sacrament/ ministry of reconciliation; Those who think that the business of forgiveness of sins is only between them and God and therefore don’t see reconciliation as a sacrament or ministry of the Church, Jn 20: 23, 2 Cor 5: 18.
(2a) Acceptance of sin/ readiness to repent; Those who often acknowledge their sins and are ready to reconcile with God.
(2b) Abuse of the abundance of Gods mercy; Those who believe that God is too merciful to ever condemn any sinner to hell. So they keep sinning and confessing without repentance.
(2c) Postponement of the date of repentance; Those who want to repent but are deceived to believe they can do that at a later date.

The anonymous woman’s response to her state as a sinner before Jesus is worthy of our reflection in today’s gospel. Her’s was an emotional response of love; She kissed Jesus’ feet ( a gesture that was too daring going by Jewish conventions) and anointed his feet with costly oil ( a gesture that Simon criticized as too sentimental). Oftentimes, we criticize those who repent as too emotional with their religious piety but we don’t seem to understand where they are coming from and what they passed through before in their spiritual lives. Why do we often want to infect others with our coldness sometimes in the name of liturgical rigidity or whatever? What kind of a Christian was Simon? Perhaps he communed with Christ just to show off and identify with the popular man of the moment. He didn’t even believe that Jesus was a prophet. He invited him to his house but never gave him water or any ointment. He gave Christ a cold reception and was the first to be envious about Christ’s rapport with the repentant woman.

Our attitude to sinners, especially in the Church, is sometimes Pharisaic and erroneous ; We either greet them with the sledge hammer of excommunication or the deadly blow of criticism and derision. The Pharisaic Simon’s response is a response of judgment and criticism. For him, the woman was being too sentimental and Jesus was goofing ; as a prophet, he should have known that this woman was a woman of the streets. We must avoid ‘Simonic tendencies’ of rash and brash judgment and other Pharisaic tendencies of condemnation against the repentant sinners in our midst. According to Thomas Adams, ‘Self righteousness is the Devil’s masterpiece to make us think well of ourselves and bad of others’. It is a very rampant tendency within Christianity. Let us come to Jesus when we are wounded. Even as priests, we minister often times to others as wounded healers. Let us therefore allow other wounded Christians free access to Christ. Let us allow them to feel free to express their emotions of love to Jesus for forgiving them more. May

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