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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, June 16, 2013

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

June 16, Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

1) 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13

Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11

2) Galatians 2:16, 19-21

Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3

Like many people, I find myself going back to short but pithy sayings -- not only because they're easy to remember, but because such maxims pack a lot of insight into a few words. For instance, "A stitch in time saves nine," reminds us that little things can have huge consequences. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, applying this wisdom to the spiritual life, wrote, "Our lives for the most part are made up of little things, and by these our character is to be tested."

Today's Scriptures are, at first glance, about big things. King David committed a heinous crime and then implicated others in a murderous cover-up -- despite the Lord's abundant blessings of his kingship. The Gospel narrative of the "sinful woman" emphasizes her public reputation and her equally public penitent actions. Both she and David were forgiven and their stories capture our attention because of the "bigness" of God's mercy.

But the Gospel also reminds us of the importance of little things. Jesus' host neglected the small details of hospitality -- water to wash his guest's feet, a kiss of greeting, ointment for the head -- revealing a stinginess of soul, a self-righteous attitude and a comparative lack of love. Unlike the woman, he probably followed all the religious rules, avoided serious sin and felt that he could be virtuous on his own merits.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reaffirms that age-old distinction between serious, or "mortal," sin and less serious, or "venial," sin, noting that the sacrament of penance is necessary for forgiveness of serious sin. If statistics are any indication, most of us probably use that as a rationale to avoid the confessional.

But the catechism also says, "Regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful."

We're not being called to an overly scrupulous approach to religious practice. But perhaps we need to better attend to the "little things" in order to open ourselves more completely to the largesse of God's mercy and love. The sacrament of penance is a great gift and a good start.


What "little things" or less serious faults have had larger consequences in your relationship with God? How can you bring these before the Lord's merciful love?


"Who is this who even forgives sins?" -- Luke 7:49


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