Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ask for Help

Today's readings for mass speak to us of the tendency toward sin of human beings, the initiative of contrition, and the need for God's forgiveness.

The first reading comes from 2 Samuel 12:7-10,13:

Nathan said to David: “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king of Israel. I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you took his wife as your own,and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’ Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan answered David: “The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.”

The Gospel reading comes from Luke 7:36-50:

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher, ” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Yesterday my daughter and I were going to confession. Today at lunch, I talked about confession with my daughter and my son. I asked them, "Why do we need to go to confession once we've been baptized?" My son gave me a much more profound answer than I would have furnished. He ran over to the refrigerator and pulled off a sign we have there for the kids to remember when they are frustrated because they feel that they can't do things like homework or a game or a sport. My son pointed to the second item on the list: "Ask for help." How true. At confession we are asking God for help. We are saying, "God, I can't do this on my own." (We are acknowledging that we are not Pelagians.)

The only prayer that Jesus taught us (the Our Father) is composed of seven petitions. That is, we ask for God's help seven times.

Sometimes we don't go to confession because we are afraid. Sometimes we don't go to confession because we are proud. In both cases, we are unwilling to ask for God's help, either because we don't want to embarrass ourselves, or because we don't think we need confession. Either way, we are saying that we won't ask for God's help because we choose to elevate our embarrassment or our pride above God's mercy and grace.

Let us all ask God for His help and go to confession regularly.

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