19 Sept. 2013. Thursday of the 24th Week
1 Tim 4:12ff. The newly ordained Timothy must exercised the ministry entrusted to him by the laying on of hands.
Luke 7:36ff. The parable of the generous money-lender explains the conversion of the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet.
First Reading: 1 Timothy 4:12-16
Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Gospel: Luke 7:36-50
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 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 kind of woman this is who is touching him – that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” nd Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 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 bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “our faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Ministry under the Gospel
In preaching the message of Christ, Paul reflects on the church and on the qualities needed in its leaders. He takes an encouraging line in his words to people like Timothy, who felt so diffident in offering guidance to others. His advice to Timothy is a classic of avuncular encouragement. Paul assures the younger man of his genuine talents, appreciates his high ideals, and assures him of his ability to teach and preach and lead the community in prayer.
In the Gospel we see how Jesus can be stern with the proud, but tender and protective towards the humble who repent. Jesus grounds his teaching in the parable of God’s generous initiative in loving and forgiving. In this provocative story, the person with the heavier load of sin seems to be loved more by God than the other person with lighter debts. This can seem unjust, until we remember that pride is a worse sin than sexual excess. But there is still hope for the proud, if the woman can be forgiven this easily.
All authority of the church is under the ideals of the Gospel, with encouragement and esteem for the young, with concern for the repentant, but reminding the proud and self-righteous of the centrality of God’s love.