12the June 2016
The first reading is the prophet Nathan speaking to King David. Peoples’ idea of David is of an excellent king; for centuries afterwards folk hoped for a similar king and he became the ideal for the Messiah that they hoped would make their nation the focus pinnacle of all the world. Even the genealogies of Jesus trace him back to this king. On his accession to the throne, David had many blessings from God, but we know from 2 Samuel (12:7-13 passim) that he wanted the wife of another man, Uriah, so he had him posted to the front line of the battle where he was soon killed and king David took his wife. The prophet expresses God’s anger at all this. But David admits that he has sinned and the passage ends with God’s forgiving David. ‘Passim’ means omitting some of the text, in this case verses 11 and 12.
The second reading (Gal 2:16-21 passim) was one of the passages used at the Reformation when the Christian church in the West split into Catholics and Protestants. The cause was complex but is often simplified down to the question of what is it that makes us saved – or justified, as they put it; it was faith alone said the Reformers, but you need good works retorted the Catholics. The works referred to in the reading are the rules that the Old Testament and its interpretation laid down to be obeyed. Before the Reformation the church itself had many rules and encouragements that it put upon its followers; it was these that the Reformers objected to. But Paul was arguing his usual line, that the Gentiles could be followers of Christ without needing to keep the Jewish rules and law. Justification – a right relationship with God – is brought about by God’s relationship to us and our response to this – our living faith.
The gospel is a long one intertwining two separate plots and one parable (Luke 7:36-8:3). There was Simon a Pharisee devoted to keeping the rules and law of his religion who had heard of Jesus’ preaching and activities. He invited Jesus to his house for a meal. There was this sinful woman in the city, probably a prostitute, who also had heard of Jesus’ attitude to people and to God. She came into the house and up to Jesus and greeted him as a guest should be greeted – washing his feet etc. Simon thinks (Luke writes “said to himself”) surely Jesus knows she is a sinner and shouldn’t have anything to do with her. Jesus responds to this with the parable of the two debtors – the one who owes the most loves the most when released from his debt. The story ends by applying this to Simon and to the Lady – obviously she loves the most. This is just one example among many in Luke’s gospel of Jesus’ forgiveness of sinners and sharing in meals