11th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

     There are many different ways to read the Scriptures, each with its own unique and important insight into who God is and what our relationship with Him is all about. One important, yet often overlooked, way of reading the Scriptures is to look closely at how the different biblical figures cooperate with God to fulfill His saving mission. If we read the Bible closely we see that God often uses those who we would least expect, to do His great work. In fact both the Old and New Testaments are filled with heroic leaders who have deep flaws, yet because they are willing to beg for God’s mercy, God not only forgives them, but goes on to use them to perform His great work of Salvation.

     In today’s first reading we hear about one of those heroic leaders in King David. In fact David was not even considered for the position of king and was only anointed king when God demanded it, yet by all accounts, he was one of the greatest humans to walk the earth. He was the king who started the royal line from which Jesus would come and was even described in the Bible as being “a man after God’s own heart.”[1] But even for all of his greatness, David was a man of deep flaws. He fell in love with the wife of another man, and in trying to hide his sin of adultery sent her husband to the frontlines in battle and had all of the troops withdraw so that he would be killed. He, like each of us was a person of strength and was called to greatness by God, but He was also a great sinner, whose sins often got in the way of the plan that God had for him. Yet for all his greatness and for all of his weaknesses, his strongest attribute was humility. When David was confronted about his sins of murder and adultery, in humility David admitted his fault and with deep faith begged for God’s forgiveness, exclaiming “forgive the wrong that I have done.”

     Like King David, God calls all of us to greatness, a greatness beyond our own natural abilities which requires His assistance. Like anything worth pursuing, this greatness often comes at a price, but this should not surprise us because “Christ did not promise an easy life. Those who desire comforts have dialed the wrong number. Rather, he shows us the way to great things, the good, towards an authentic human life.”[2] God, through the teachings of His Church challenges us to live the difficult life, because it leads to this greatness. “The Catechism was not written to please you. It will not make life easy for you, because it demands of you a new life.”[3] Jesus did not come into this world to simply make us healthy, wealthy and wise. No, He came to preach the good news of the kingdom of heaven and to raise us up to eternal life. All of us are called to be greatness, we are called to be saints, that is to say we are all called to be the best version of ourselves. Greatness demands sacrifice and willingness to put other lesser things aside so we can achieve the greatness we were destined for. In calling us to this greatness, in calling us to be saints, our Lord knows that we will fall along the way, but He assures us He will be there to pick us back up if we are willing to turn to him with humility to admit our faults and with deep faith to accept His forgiveness.

     My friends God’s call to repentance is simply an invitation to follow Him. It is a reminder that “one aspect of becoming a Christian is having to leave behind what everyone else thinks and wants, the prevailing standard, in order to enter the light of the truth of our being and aided by that light to find the right path.”[4] While this idea of reordering our life to put God first, the thought of conversion, may seem daunting, what do we really have to do by reordering our lives around Christ?

     Friends “a man can become a Christian, not by birth, but only by conversion.”[5] Have you ever noticed how God calls people in the Bible? Take the woman from today’s Gospel as an example. She was such a great sinner that everyone in the town knew of her evil ways. Did Jesus call her by saying “confess you horrific sinner?” God didn’t need to tell this woman she was a sinner; she already knew that. Rather than call her out for his evil, God invited her to reorder his life around Him.

     God extends the invitation to each of us to repent and turn to Him. Do we take that opportunity? Do we allow Him to remove the obstacles in our lives so we can be the great person he desires us to be? Are we willing to humble ourselves to experience God’s mercy so that He can make us great, He can make us saints?

[1] 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22

[2] Pope Benedict XVI Address to the German Pilgrims who had come to Rome for the Inauguration Ceramony of the Pontificate.  http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2005/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20050425_german-pilgrims.html

[3] Pope Benedict XVI introduction to the Youth Catechism

[4] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Jesus of Nazareth Part II. San Francisco: Ignatius Press,2011. Pg 67.

[5] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. Pg 363.


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