20 Sept. Thursday of Week Twenty Four

1 Cor 15:1ff. The Gospel Paul preached is the one that he himself received, and has not proved fruitless.

Luke 7:36ff. The parable of the generous money-lender illustrates the conversion of the once-sinful woman.

Anchored in the Gospel

We must be anchored in the Gospel, Paul says. His version of the Good News reaches back to Jesus and continues in the Church. Paul has a keen sense of tradition: “I remind you of the Gospel I preached to you.. and in which you stand firm.. I handed on to you first of all what I myself received.” Paul summarizes this gospel of salvation: Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again; was seen by his disciples. He names those whom Jesus placed in leadership roles: first Peter, then the Twelve and a larger group of five hundred, afterwards James (who led the Jewish Christians), and finally Paul himself. He makes this humble admission, “I am the least of the apostles,.. I do not deserve even the name.” We minister to one another in the faith that Jesus died for the sins of each of us. We never lord it over others, we the least of all.

We notice a sharp contrast of attitudes and responses in the Gospel. Jesus can be stern with the pure and the proud, while tender and protective towards the humble and repentant. Jesus grounds his teaching in the basis of God’s generous loving and forgiving. The person with heavier debts of sin may be loved more by God than another, proud person with lighter debts. This can seem unjust, until we remember that pride is a greater sin than sexual excess. We of the woman, a public sinner in town, as the one who owed the five hundred gold pieces, and the Pharisee as owing only fifty gold pieces. There is still hope for the proud, if the woman can be forgiven this easily; but repentance is the key.

All ministering within the Gospel and the church must follow this core teaching of Jesus, with real concern for the repentant, and with stern warning in the case of the proud and self-righteous.

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast – unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Gospel: Luke 7:36-50

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him – that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “our faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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