Monday, June 17, 2013
Fr. Andersen Homily: God Doesn't Define Us By Our Sin
A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, OR
June 16th, 2013
Dominica XI Per Annum, Anno C.
In the first reading today, we encounter King David who is suffering the consequences of grave sin. He repents of his sins, and his sins are forgiven, but the prophet Nathan tells him that the consequences of the sin are that the child of the illicit union will die. King David lusted after another man’s wife. He used his power to seduce her. He treated her like an object. He did not see her in her humanity. He did not treat her as someone with an immortal soul, with an eternal destiny. He saw her with the eyes of selfishness. She was an object whom he could use to obtain what he wanted. He used her selfishly. This action bore bitter fruit.
Now the wife of Uriah was not accustomed to being used. Her husband Uriah was an honorable man. He was a soldier. When King David tried to get him drunk so that he would go home to his wife, Uriah, being an honorable man, did not get drunk and he did not go home. A soldier could not have relations with his wife as long as he was in a period of military service. He must remain chaste and continent. This was out of respect for his office and for his wife. She was accustomed to this honorable treatment from her good husband.
We contrast this with the sinful woman in the Gospel. She is accustomed to being objectified and used by men. But our Lord does not treat her as an object. He sees her as a person, not as a thing. The Pharisees look at her as an object of scorn. They do not look upon her as a person. Jesus sees her as a person with an immortal soul and an eternal destiny. She is not an object, but rather a subject and He treats her as such. She knows this and she trusts Jesus.
This is the difference between lust and love. Lust is about power. Lust uses other people, treating them like objects, in order to get what one wants. Lust is selfish; it takes. Love on the other hand, is generous; it gives. Love looks upon the beloved as an immortal soul destined for eternal life. That is how our Lord looks upon us. We are destined for eternal life.
We are not defined by our sins. The Pharisees defined this woman by her sins. That was all they saw. God does not define us by our sins. He sees us as His beloved sons and daughters.
What we see in the Gospel is a woman with an apparently scandalous past. But all the more does Jesus forgive her sins. And she loves Him all the more because she has been forgiven more. She knows that He can heal her from the effects of sin which have ravaged her. That is why she seeks Him out as she does. She trusts Him because He is pure and not lustful. He gives her true love.
Each of us seeks to be loved. Love is healing to our souls. We seek love through our families, our parents, and siblings, etc. Some people seek out the love of God by means of marriage; others seek out the love of God directly through the consecrated life or the priesthood. The love of God, the love of Jesus, is real love. We know that Jesus will give us Himself and He will treat us with love and respect. We need never worry about being objectified by Him. In His eyes and in His heart, we are subjects and not objects. His is a pure and true love for us.
This woman was converted from her life of sin to a life of purity when she encountered Jesus. She did not go back to her scandalous life after this encounter. How could she? Her heart and soul had been healed by Jesus. She had desperately sought this kind of love before but turned to sinful encounters trying to find it and not finding it at all. Instead she found sorrow and loneliness and scorn from other men.
But from Jesus, she found joy, and love, and peace. How did this happen? She poured out herself to Him. She was extravagant with her gifts to Him. By her extravagance with Jesus, her own heart was healed. She once treated other men in an idolatrous way, seeking from them what only God could give to her. But now she knows that only God can love her enough to fill the emptiness inside of her. We can learn from that.
With Jesus, we cannot be too needy or too extravagant. We can give and give and give to Jesus, and He will love us purely and perfectly in return. And He will not be outdone by us. He will give back to us in ways that we might not even anticipate. And He will never treat any of us as a thing. We will always be a person––a subject––with an immortal soul destined for eternity. Let us not hold anything back from Him.