Reflection for Sunday, June 13, 2004: 11th week in Ordinary Time.
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Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Then Nathan said to David: "You are the man!"|I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.|So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.|This week's liturgy is about self-awareness and gratitude. It is nearly impossible to grow without self-awareness. And it is really difficult to be a follower of Jesus without being grateful.|David's story is a classic. The framers of these Sunday readings chose it well as a prelude for the gospel. It would be a fine preparation to remind ourselves of the story preceeding today's first reading: about David's lust for Bathsheba, his manipulation to cause her husband's death, and the self-awareness Nathan offers David - 2 Samuel 11 and 2 Samuel 12:1-6. David's lust becomes much stronger than his conscience - for he's even willing to sacrifice the life of another, to protect his own needs.We have all had the experience of being quite blind to our sin and can see ourselves in what happens next. When Nathan reports to David about an alleged injustice - a rich man taking the treasured possession of a poor man - David is outraged: "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this merits death! ... because he has done this and has had no pity." In today's reading, Nathan tells David the humbling message we all need to hear: David, take a look in the mirror; that's you! That's what you have done!|Whenever we are outraged at the sin of others, it is very good to take a good hard look in the mirror. When John Paul II warned the United States that there were no moral grounds upon which we could pre-emptively invade Iraq, and warned of the disasterous consequences of such an act, we went forward, sure that we were on a higher moral ground. When no weapons of mass destruction were found, we proudly asserted that what we had done was moral because a brutal torturer had been removed. The pictures from the Abu Graib prison were a humbling look in the mirror for us.|St. Ignatius reminds us in the Spiritual Exercises that secrecy is dangerous. The Evil Spirit loves to keep his manipulative urgings to us a secret, especially when he's attracting us to do something that is apparently 'good.' When these activities or temptations are exposed to the light of day - through reflection and self-awareness, even discussing them with a confessor or spiritual director - the power of this Spirit, so contrary to the Spirit of the Lord, is taken away.|In the gospel we have a marvelous story of the relationship between self-awarness and gratitude. Jesus is at the home of good man - a faithful observer of the letter of the law, and obviously eager to get to know Jesus more deeply. However, this woman who bursts into the room and throws herself at Jesus' feet provides a mirror for the host into his own lack of gratitude. She's not a faithful observer of the law, but she knows who she is. She must have encountered Jesus and his preaching and it must have touched her - converted her - so completely that she had to come and express her overwhelming sense of gratitude. Her awareness of her sinfulness had carved out in her a huge capacity to love that our host just didn't have. Obedience to the law doesn't get one to act lovingly. Gratitude always leads to generosity and love. "So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."|Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche has said that "God reveals himself to us by revealing us to ourselves." When we really look in the mirror, in the presence of our loving God, and really see who we are - what we have done and what we have failed to do - how dishonest and self-serving we have been - then, and only then, do we discover our need for a Savior.|Dear Jesus, as we prepare for this Sunday's celebration of your love, please reveal us to ourselves. Help us trust in your love so deeply that we might lay down the barriors to self-awareness. And as we come to church or to the Eucharist this weekend, let us walk into church as people in need of Salvation, ready to acknowledge that it is "right to give you thanks and praise." And we ask that our gratitude might overflow in the love we express to those in need.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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