"Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women"
Jesus, as we know, certainly chose from among his disciples 12 men as Fathers of the new Israel and appointed them "to be with him, and to be sent out to preach" (Mk 3, 14-15). This fact is obvious; but, in addition to the Twelve, pillars of the Church and fathers of the new People of God, many women were also chosen to number among the disciples. I can only mention very briefly those who followed Jesus himself, beginning with the Prophetess Anna (cf. Lk 2, 36-38), to the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4, 1-39), the Syro-Phoenician woman (cf. Mk 7, 24-30), the woman with the haemorrhage (cf. Mt 9, 20-22) and the sinful woman whose sins were forgiven (cf. Lk 7, 36-50).
Today’s gospel provides such a dramatic and beautiful picture of God’s love for us. There are many lessons to be found in this passage.
It is easy to imagine this woman - with hair probably to her waist or longer - weeping at Jesus’ feet in sorrow for her sins. She demonstrates such humility in her actions, to use her tears and her hair to wash the dusty, dirty feet of someone who has been walking in sandals on unpaved roads and paths, through the market places and in the fields. As a nurse I think of the contrast with how we health care providers can distance ourselves from our patients with gloves and gowns and masks. Not that I am recommending that we forego these protections for ourselves and others; it is reasonable and necessary to protect against exposure to infection. But, it might be well for us to imagine this gospel scene when ministering to a patient to remind us that God resides in that individual. Then we are humbled by His presence just as the woman in the gospel was and, despite our protective gear, there can be no distancing of our hearts and minds.
"To what shall I compare the people of this generation?"
I love to watch Jesus in the midst of a messy conflict. He has encountered tremendous faith from a Roman centurian who trusts God's power. He brought the only son of a widow back to life. And then the disciples of John the Baptist bring him a question from John, who is now in jail: "Are you the one, or should we expect someone else?" Jesus tells them to go back and reassure John by reminding him, "the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them." After Jesus tells the crowd what an incredible person John was, Luke adds the following words:
Holy Mary..., the old man Simeon spoke to you of the sword which would pierce your soul (Lk 2:35), of the sign of contradiction that your Son would be in this world. Then, when Jesus began his public ministry, you had to step aside, so that a new family could grow... of those who heard his word and kept it (Lk 11:27f). Notwithstanding the great joy that marked the beginning of Jesus's ministry, in the synagogue of Nazareth you must already have experienced the truth of the saying about the “sign of contradiction” (Lk 4:28ff). In this way you saw the growing power of hostility and rejection which built up around Jesus until the hour of the Cross, when you had to look upon the Saviour of the world, the heir of David, the Son of God dying like a failure, exposed to mockery, between criminals.
Holy Cross - San Clemente, Rome (Detail of apse mosaic, 12th century)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. J 3:16
On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts. The miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the origin of the tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on this date. Constantine later built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site of her discovery of the cross. On this same pilgrimage she ordered two other churches built: one in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of the Ascension, near Jerusalem.
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Usually the First Reading of our liturgies lead indirectly or symbolically from the Hebrew Scriptures to a Gospel story or teaching. Today the reading is from Sirach, a book of wisdom sayings. The reading is really a prologue for the story Jesus is telling about being forgiven and the merciful result in the life of the forgiven.
The Author encourages the practice of forgiving by referring to the reality of the “last days”, that person’s own death. If that does not work, remember the commandments and that you are a member of the convenanted people within which God has forgiven the community as well as each member.
1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Luke 6:43-49
Simply put, today’s readings tell us it is not enough to simply listen to Jesus’ words or even to be in relationship with Jesus. No, to be a disciple, one must act. One must respond. I submit, that when we are in a real love relationship with Jesus, the response can come naturally. We must be intentional but the response will flow out of the relationship. I say this because of the phrase “for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” This is not just saying that good fruit comes from a good tree. It is also an indication to me that when the heart is full, action can’t help but come forth. St. Ignatius understood this. Consider for a moment The Contemplation on the Love of God from the Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius asks us to consider the following four points. (excerpt below from David L. Fleming S.J.)
Congratulations and Happy Feast day
Sister Izabela Świerad SAC, Superior General
03 September 2020
Dear Sister Izabela,
With immense love and gratitude to God we wish you a very happy feast day. Every celebration is moment of grace and blessing. Today may you experience the joy of your purpose and continue to give thanks to the almighty who grant you the spirit of love and peace. As you continue to journey on the road of holiness, together with all the Sisters of the Congregation we pray and wish you:
May God be with you and bless you
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward. (St. Patrick)
Generalate and Procura Community, Rome