This post is part of our Ordinary Time, Extraordinary Mercy series, in which CatholicMom.com contributors will share their own experiences of living the Year of Mercy. Beginning at Pentecost and continuing through the summer, we’ll cover many aspects of the Works of Mercy in family life.
In Luke’s Gospel, (7: 36-8:3) we meet Jesus at a dinner where the woman comes and breaks open the jar of ointment. The whole story of coming to the house, kneeling before Christ and breaking open the alabaster jar, weeping before everyone, is a model of Confession. We know Jesus is waiting there, and we come, bringing what we have held onto, and Jesus forgives us. We leave as new persons. All that debt we’d carried is removed.
We live in an age where we are comfortable declaring others to be somehow, “not worthy.” We don’t say it that overtly, but we do when we call people useful idiots, when we dismiss people with terms like “liberal” or “conservative,” when we feel applauded for saying someone else is wrong. Someone else is a sinner.
The reality is, we are ALL sinners. Some just know it more deeply. Some know it so well, they are trapped. Some know it enough to recognize they’re trapped. (I would submit, that is the moment of grace). Before we enter the story with the woman washing Jesus’ feet, we must imagine there was a great deal of chatter at the well or in the marketplace because Jesus, a great prophet and healer, was coming to dine with this Pharisee. Let’s also guess that the Pharisee let it be known, and invited others to come to the supper, so they all could be seen dining with Jesus.
The woman heard Jesus was coming. She responded to that news by preparing, (perhaps wrestling with the idea) to come to the house of the Pharisee. Jesus read her heart and told her, as everyone is told when we step out of the confessional, “Your sins are forgiven; go in peace.”
We need to recognize our place in this story. If we came to the dinner and we are not the woman weeping and kissing His feet, we are supposed to take in the words Jesus says, when he challenges the Pharisee to recognize how to love more lavishly. How can we be more like Jesus? Forgive. Be merciful. Do not reject the sinner because she is a sinner, because each of us is a sinner.
There is nothing more merciful than Forgiveness. Jesus reveals this on the Cross. We cannot have wronged Him more than by His need to be on the Cross for each of us individually. Yet even on the cross, Jesus offers us mercy. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He pours out mercy which is ours for the taking if we would approach His feet, and let ourselves touch even the hem of His garment.
So in this Year of Mercy, if you would be merciful, if you would live out the Beatitude of mercy, forgive, forgive and forgive again. Seventy times seven, forgive. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Ergo, we must show mercy, we must pour out mercy, we must be zealous forgivers of those around us. For Forgiveness is Mercy and none of us deserve mercy. Forgiveness is a gift we cannot merit, only receive. Forgive those who irritate you, on the news, on the internet, at work. Forgive those who anger you, in politics, on the world wide stage, those in your past, those in your present. Forgive so as to love more.
Forgive so as to mirror Christ.
Copyright 2016 Sherry Antonetti