Homily for the eleventh Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 7:36-8:3
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house, and took his place at table. 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 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 sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.» And Jesus answering said to him, «Simon, I have something to say to you.» And he answered, «What is it, Teacher?» «A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?» Simon answered, «The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.» And he 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 wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss 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 are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.»
" And he said to her, «Your sins are forgiven.» Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, «Who is this, who even forgives sins?» And he said to the woman, «Your faith has saved you; go in peace.»
Soon afterward he went on through cities and
villages, preaching and
bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And
the twelve were
with him, and also some women who had been healed of
evil spirits and
infirmities: Mary, called Mag'dalene, from whom
seven demons had
gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's
Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out
of their means. "
When Jesus is invited to the home of a Pharisee named Simon, the Savior of men finds himself at a crucial point in his life as God made Man. Indeed, Jesus will show all the guests present that, if he is there with them, it is for this reason: to forgive sins! He had said so himself: "For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mt. 9:13) Moreover, the guests' response to this is clear, for they are surprised by what Jesus accomplishes before their eyes: "Jesus said to her, «Your sins are forgiven.» Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, «Who is this, who even forgives sins?» " (Lk. 7:48-49)
In this crucial moment in the life of Jesus, a protagonist enters his life, and not one of the least of them: Mary, she who would be called Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala. She will similarly be invited, by divine Providence, to intervene in just as important a way in just as crucial a time in the life of Lord: on the morning of the Resurrection! A crucial moment par excellence: indeed, it is at that moment that Mary Magdalene will announce to the Apostles and disciples gathered together at the Cenacle that Jesus is resurrected! It is still a crucial moment, for on the evening of Passover, Jesus will tell the Apostles: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (Jn. 20:22-23)
A sinner among sinners, Mary Magdalene was greatly loved by Jesus. How could it have been otherwise? But when Jesus loves a sinner, it is not the man or woman whom Jesus loves primarily: it is first and foremost his Father whom Jesus loves through that man or woman. For Jesus, all men and women on earth are but creatures destined to love his Father and to manifest to all the Love he has for his Father in Heaven! This is why, on the morning of Easter, Jesus avoids any contact with Mary Magdalene, giving his absolute preference to his Father, saying: "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." (Jn. 20:17)
Jesus has but one Love: his Father! If Jesus loves sinners, he does so to love his Father in them and through them. Jesus loves his Father in us and through us! For we are but creatures... Now, a creature is a means, that is to say a being at which one must not stop, a being solely destined to the attainment of an end, an end that is God, the one and only supreme end. In this sense, even if Jesus loved Mary Magdalene very much, it is his Father and solely his Father that Jesus loves in her, and through her. But, as every man or woman was created in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:27), Jesus, in loving his Father, also loves every man and woman in Him. So Jesus loved Mary Magdalene in loving his Father, that is to say divinely.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, followed the same path as her Son. Indeed, she imitated him, while preceding him in time, having contemplated in advance, in the Old Covenant, the unique model who is the Savior of men! Thus Mary also loved God above all, in loving he who became her mystical Spouse, the Holy Spirit, during the Incarnation of the Word. Mary loved God throughout her life, remaining a Virgin before, during, and after having brought into the world the Child Jesus. Mary gave herself to God from the first instant of her existence, enlightened and strengthened by the fullness of grace in her. Never did Mary have another child than Jesus Christ, just as the Savior of men never loved Mary Magdalene in any way but divinely, that is to say in God his Father!