June 10, 2013

Homily: 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C, 2013



Fr. René Butler

Thirty-five years ago, I worked at a college seminary. There was a seminarian whose parents divorced when he was young, because his father was an alcoholic, and now he was, just getting to know his father. Unfortunately I had to tell him a few months later that his father had died, beaten with a baseball bat.

A number of priests from the seminary went to the funeral. But the Pastor said to us: “I can’t allow you to concelebrate. This guy was the town drunk. We don’t have more than one priest even for our good people. We can’t have so many for this guy!”

This is similar to the Gospel story of the woman who wept at the feet of Jesus. The Pharisees were right about her. She was a sinner. In some notorious way she violated the Torah, the law of God. Everybody knew “who and what sort of woman” she was. The Pharisees even turned this against Jesus. He couldn’t be a real prophet after all, if he didn’t know who she was.

Jesus didn’t care, because that was the only one there who knew who he was.

The Pharisees were right about the woman. But they were wrong about Jesus. The woman was right about herself, and right about Jesus. That is why he told her, “Your faith has saved you.”

When we are inclined to judge others, we should remember that the Church is something like Alcoholics Anonymous; it could be called “Sinners Anonymous.” After all, at every Mass we begin by acknowledging that we are sinners.

In AA the only requirement is a genuine desire to seek a life of recovery. Not overnight. Not alone. In “SA” the only requirement is a genuine desire to seek a life of grace. Not overnight. Not alone.

Let us hope and pray that no one shall ever be turned away who comes to the Church seeking the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, that no one shall ever be turned away who comes seeking Jesus in our midst.

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S., is Director of the La Salette Shrine in Enfield, NH.

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