17Sep 17 September, 2020. Thursday of Week 24

17 September, 2020. Thursday of Week 24

St Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor of the Church (Opt. Mem.)

1st Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

The Gospel Paul preached as the basic faith of the Church

I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Responsorial: from Psalm 118

R./: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
“His love has no end.” (R./)

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds. (R./)

You are my God, and I thank you;
O my God, I praise you.
I will thank you for you have given answer
and you are my saviour (R./)

Gospel: Luke 7:36-50

But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little

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.”

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?”


Varieties of ministering

Each of us has chances and opportunities, great and small, to be ministers, to serve others as fellow human beings. Whether it be in ordained ministry, or the work of teachers, nurses counsellors, shop assistants or civil servants, or just the goodwill of kindly relatives and good neighbours, it all counts. There are so many ways of serving the needs of others, but Paul counts as vital the handing of of the faith. He describes his own keen sense of vocation: “I handed on to you first of all what I myself received” and then summarises the core message, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again. In some sense, we can all share that ministry, by fostering faith and hope and love.

The ministry of the word is for handing on the message of Jesus, and belief in the salvation he won for us all. Paul’s own credentials are reliable, even though he freely admits that he is the least of the apostles, hardly deserving that very name. We need a similarly humble spirit, never lording it over others but counting it a privilege to serve them.

Not self-righteous but sorry

Jesus spoke sternly to the proud and the self-righteous, but was gentle with the humble and repentant. He says that while our heavenly Father is ever loving, a forgiving spirit is also required in us. The person with the heavier load of sin seems to be nearer to God than the one with smaller debts. This can seem unjust unless we see that arrogance is a greater sin than excess of libido.

At first glance the woman, a public sinner in the town, must be the one who owes the five hundred coins, and the Pharisee the one who owes only fifty coins. There is still hope for the proud, if the public sinner can be forgiven so readily forgiven. We must treat each another in this spirit, encouraging the young, showing concern for the sinner, and firmness in the face of self-righteous pride.


6 Responses

  1. Soline Humbert

    Today is also the feast day of another doctor of the church,a woman,
    Saint Hildegard of Bingen.
    Hildegard often concluded her letters of advice with the words
    ‘Stay green and moist’, which for her meant openness to the Spirit of God. ( Mary T Malone)

  2. Paddy Ferry

    Soline, having finally got the chance to see “Philomena” during the lockdown –the family had already seen it a few times — the name Hildegard now conjures up for me only the most negative of connotations, sadly. Talk about man’s –and woman’s — inhumanity to man !!

    It was, perhaps, the most upsetting piece of television I had watched during lockdown.

  3. Joe O'Leary

    I thought everyone knew that the film smears Sr Hildegard McNulty in a nasty way: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/nuns-say-critical-scene-in-philomena-was-made-up-1.1606043

  4. anthony rosairo

    Dear Writer, May God’s peace descend upon you for writing such beautiful reflections daily. Continue In Xt Rosairo

  5. Soline Humbert

    Regrettably the Vatican chooses to completely ignore Saint Hildegard on her feast day. She is a saint and a doctor of the church…but a woman…so obviously no match for Robert Bellarmine! Particularly regrettable because her approach to creation is sorely needed in our times

    Creation from Hildegard of Bingen.

    You, O endlessly creating and creative God,
    have given the lovely green land into our keeping,
    but You never gave us power over it.
    ‘Don’t think’, You said, ‘that you can do with it what you wish.’
    We sow the seed, but without your grace,
    that living mysterious sap of life,
    the seed will not bear fruit.

    For it is You who sprinkle the dew,
    You who pour down the rain,
    You who moisten the earth,
    now with tears of joy, now with gladness, now with sorrow.
    You produce the warmth of the sun.
    You are the light which acts like a magnet,
    to draw all living things towards You.

    God of wisdom,You have given me the power
    to pour words into a person’s ear;
    but it is You, not I, that changes a person’s heart.
    So it is with the land.
    God of the Land and the People,
    send down on us
    the dew of grace and fruitfulness,
    the rain of tears and longing and reaching upwards,
    the moisture of softening and cajoling,
    the richness of maturing and persevering,
    the warmth of the spirit of energy and love.

    Be the running sap of our lives.
    Clothe us in viridity, in greenness.
    Tend the budding branches,
    garland us with the blossoms of beauty.
    Bind us together with the vines of compassion.
    Make us into waving fronds
    so that we may dance before you in joy.

    With You among us, we are holy people.
    Within your embrace, the land is holy.
    Afloat in your love,
    all created things live your praise.
    We hear, we see, we are in awe
    and we give thanks.

    Hildegard of Bingen

    (Translation – Mary T Malone, Praying With the Women Mystics p103)

  6. Roy Donovan

    Soline, wonderful inspiring intervention once again. Thanks