24th Week Thursday, Sept 17

 24th Week, Thursday, Sept 17

1 Cor 15:1-11 / Luke 7:36-50

Paul talks about our roots: I passed on to you what I received.  

In 1977 the television miniseries Roots set viewing records that still stand. Roots was the fruit of 12 years of research by author Alex Haley, who traced his family tree through seven generations of black Africans. Haleys book motivated thousands of Americans to search out their own ancestry. Commenting on their search, Haley said, "One of the most powerful things in the world is to have a sense of one's family history and . . . identity." In today's reading, Paul talks about our own Christian roots, saying, "I passed on to you what I received . . . that Christ died … and that he was raised to life three days later." It was this event that gave birth to our Christian faith. 


As Paul establishes his apostolic credentials in this first reading, he gives us one of the handful of absolutely critical sections of the New Testament. This is among the earliest testimonies to the Easter faith of the early Church. It is the first assertion in the New Testament that Jesus "died for sins." This is a primal statement of the essence of the faith primitive apostolic community. These words link us to the faith of the early Church. Read and preached during the season, they span the centuries to join the Church today with the fundamental event of Christianity—the Resurrection of the Lord. 

Paul states that he became an Apostle out the normal course—in an extraordinary way. He had travelled with Jesus and did not have the credentials required Matthias in the Acts of the Apostles. The central qualification upon which he relies is his vivid, direct and personal experience of the Risen Lord. That experience, as valid as that of the Eleven, the enabling experience that allowed him to boast of the title Apostle.  

The core of the good news that Paul brings to the Corinthians is the resurrection of Jesus. Paul insists, because Greeks do not easily accept this truth. For Christians the resurrection means life more than a dogma; it means hope and a great future.
A woman with a bad reputation, which she apparently deserved, comes to Jesus and shows in a rather extravagant way that something in her cries out for a purer kind of love than she had experienced in life. Her encounter with Jesus in faith and love led to forgiveness, to the scandal of the good practicing people. For us too, Jesus’ encounter with us is always forgiving. 


How do we try to renew our own appreciation of our Christian roots from time to time? "If Christ has not been raised, we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to believe." 1Cor 15:14 


To persist and to persevere is really hard work and it takes a lot out of us. And if we were to continue persisting and persevering, then we also need to keep on believing in what we are doing it for. More so if we say that we believe in God. Then our persistence and perseverance will be put to the test.

In the gospel, we see another model of persistent and persevering faith in the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus.
She believed and kept believing in the mercy of God, and for that she was forgiven, and filled with love. So, we have more than enough of models of faith in the Korean martyrs, in St. Paul and in the woman in the gospel. Let us keep believing, let us persist and persevere in our faith, and we too will experience mercy, forgiveness and love.


We cannot separate the teachings of saints and spiritual writers from the life experiences out of which they arise. Paul’s powerful experience of Jesus' forgiveness drove home to him the transformative power of God's grace and the complete gift which forgiveness really is. This sets the background for today's Gospel reading. The woman who washes the feet of Jesus with her tears realizes not only her own sinfulness but also comes to experience the Lord's forgiveness. That combination creates saints and powerful apostles. A recognition of sin alone leads to spiritual pessimism. A recognition of God's willingness to forgive, by itself, can lead to cheap grace and automatic religion. When the crosshairs of repentance and forgiveness meet in our souls, saints are born. 


At first sight the lesson for us is: love and God forgives. Luke often gives us the meaning of a story only in the last sentence. Your faith  has saved you", says Jesus to the sinful woman who washed his feet with her tears. Faith has two qualities. It fills a need in man and it leads to a total personal commitment. God has made man's heart for himself. It longs for goodness. Sin has made no man ever happy. Sin was her profession. Seeing the sinless made her long for the good that is in man. A desire for goodness. She does not belong. Every man wants to belong. We cannot live without knowing that we are belonging, that somebody knows us, esteems us, needs and wants us, even loves us. That’s why faith makes us give ourselves fully to God in a total self-surrender. A meeting with Jesus makes this clear. It is liberating. Jesus gave her the heart of a queen. He made her feel she was good and forgave her. We meet Jesus every day in meditation and communion. Faith leads to love and love increases faith.  


Let us Pray: Patient and loving Father, you sent Jesus your Son among us to heal what is broken and wounded. He touched us with his goodness and did not break the crushed reed. Forgive us our sins, let your Spirit continue in us the work of conversion and make us patient and understanding with those who love us and those who fail us. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.