Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mars and the Moon over Jesuit Center June 15, 9:20 PM

My camera identifies the moon as nearly full.   Not quite the truth! But Mars will look as bright to us as it does here at the time of the full moon in a few days.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


The gospel reading today is a dinner table story.    Such stories resonate with us because of our familiarity with such settings.  For families the dinner table is at least a semi-formal place where certain kinds of behavior are expected.   My brother who was raising three sons set some minimum standards.    Forbidden at the table were motor noises; forbidden were sweeping gestures delivering food to the mouth like airplanes.   At least there was a minimum of formality. 

(After Mass today in a nearby parish the three brothers who served Mass told me that they were not allowed to express their impatience at table if the food was not there when they arrived.   Forbidden were chants such as “We want food, we want food.”)

In today’s reading Jesus takes his place among other guests invited to the dinner table of a Pharisee named Simon.  ….. Simon knows that Jesus is no ordinary traveling rabbi.  Simon has heard stories of his healing miracles and stories of crowds gathering around him to listen to his preaching.  Simon will be paying attention to what Jesus has to say.   It is likely that there would be conversation about religion and scripture...   

(Once as a guest myself, a Jesuit priest at an unfamiliar table, I was teased with the story about the three things that God does not know: how many rosaries the Dominicans have said; how many orders of Franciscans there are and thirdly what the Jesuits are thinking.   I did not feel as free to speak my mind knowing that my host might think that God had not helped me form my opinion.)

……A woman who has heard Jesus preach about God’s love is 
inspired to approach him and enters the dining room. She has guts and she quickly places herself at his feet.  He looks back at her and allows her to wash and anoint his feet.    The conversation stops; Simon, the host, and the other guests are embarrassed that Jesus lets this woman touch his feet, in fact bathe them with her tears and anoint them.  Simon knows she is a sinner and Jesus knows this, too, whether through some special insight or because he has seen her before.

 Jesus uses the incident to talk about how the woman has been forgiven.  Jesus apparently already has told her about God’s mercy and God’s love for her.  Yes, her sins are many but she has found forgiveness and the sign of her love for God is expressed by her tears and her anointing of Jesus’ feet.   Jesus implies that this woman known as a sinner, now loves God more than others like Simon who is known as a righteous person.  “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

Dinner is over.  Everyone has gone home and prepares for a night’s rest:   for his part Simon is puzzled about Jesus who on his own claims to have a mission from God to forgive sins.   For her part the sinful woman rejoices that God loves her and forgives her and Jesus, as he does each evening, gives thanks to his Father: this evening for the good food and conversation, for the washing and anointing of his feet but most of all for the mission given him by his Father to show the sinful woman and us as well how much we are loved and freed from our sins.