Daily Homily: Your Faith Has Saved You

Thursday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two

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1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Psalm 118:1b-2, 16ab-17, 28
Luke 7:36-50

All four Gospels present Jesus as the one who can forgive sins. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the healing of the paralytic, a miracle which shows that Jesus has the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26). In John, John the Baptist bears witness that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:26).

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews argues that Jesus’ sacrifice takes away our sin. «Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins» (Hebrews 9:22). Unlike the high priest who entered the earthly sanctuary with the blood of animals, which cannot take away sin, Christ our High Priest entered the heavenly sanctuary with his own blood, which does take away sin. We, then, have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

In the power of the Spirit, Jesus offered himself without blemish to God. «The personal oblation of an immaculate human being, accomplished under the impulse of the eternal Spirit, the sacrifice of Christ was fully efficacious, not only in making human nature perfect in him and uniting it to the heavenly holiness of God, but also in communicating perfection to all believers» (A. Vanhoye, A Different Priest, Convivium, 286). Christ’s blood purifies our conscience and enables us to serve God (Hebrews 9:14).

Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus into his home, but refused to believe in him. He felt no need to treat Jesus as an honored guest; he was blind to his sinfulness in the presence of his Lord. The woman, on the other hand, sought out Jesus not to satisfy her curiosity, but to be freed from her many sins. She expressed her faith in Jesus and love for him by washing and anointing Jesus’ feet.

Simon mistakenly thought that he was justified by his works and fulfillment of the Old Law. But his works were devoid of faith and love. The woman, however, understood that her righteousness comes not from herself but from God and that only works informed by faith in Jesus and love for God and for neighbor can justify.

The Gospel message is one of forgiveness, salvation in Christ, mercy and love. It was the Gospel that Paul received and handed on to the Churches he served. Christ, he writes, died for our sins and was raised on the third day. Through Christ, we receive the grace of God that purifies our sins and introduces us into God’s family.

Paul understands that his sins have been taken away by Christ’s sacrifice. Paul now enjoys the freedom of the children of God; a freedom that enables him to serve Christ in his brother and sisters. We, too, have been freed from our sin through the Sacrament of Baptism and can be freed from the sins we commit after Baptism through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Through Baptism we die with Christ and rise with him to new life; through Reconciliation we place ourselves before the throne of God’s mercy and are restored to God’s grace and reconciled with the Church. «In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin. In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and ‘does not come into judgment'» (CCC, 1470).

Readers may contact Fr Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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