Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crashing the party — Mary Magdalene style

In today's Gospel (Luke 7:36-50), a pillar of society invited an itinerant preacher to a dinner party. As they ate, a lady, no doubt uninvited (even Luke identified her as a sinner) found her way into the host's house and made a beeline, not for the beautiful people but for the Beautiful Person, where she proceeded to wash His feet with her tears, anoint them with expensive oil, and dry them with her hair.

The host—who, in my mind, was probably not such a bad sort—nonetheless mentally raised his eyebrows while questioning the legitimacy of this rabbi everybody seemed to think was so terrific. "If this guy's such a mensch (I'm paraphrasing here) he'd know all about this broad."

Jesus, being God, knew the guy's thoughts and challenged him. I often wonder whether the latter got the point. In any case, here's the main point:

Jesus delighted in the woman's actions!

Why? Because He loved having his feet catered to? Nah. He's God, for Heaven's sake, and, yes, Man too, but the Perfect Man...and a Perfect Man doesn't need The Compleat Pedicure!

No, Jesus was delighted in the woman's repentance...and impressed beyond all get out that she'd crashed the party to get it.

By the grace of God, I live in an area that doesn't often require party-crashing.

What I mean is, I live in Boston, where there is ample opportunity to take full advantage of one of the greatest gifts God has given us: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Which is a very good, good thing, since sin tends to be a daily activity for me. But you know what?

Some—many, actually—aren't given this amazing opportunity.

At least, not with the convenience I've been given.

I know too many people who live in areas where priests are few. Or where priests aren't that few, but the opportunities for Confession are. And I say to you:


You have the God-given right to beg for His everlasting mercy. You have the right to repent. You do not—nor do I nor did Mary Magdalene—have the right to receive forgiveness, of course. That's why it's called "mercy." But Jesus really, really, REALLY wants you to ask for it. And He really, really, REALLY wants to give it. Ask and you will receive...deservedly or not.

So, if you find yourself in the state of sin, please, please PLEASE do not wait for an earthly invitation to have your soul cleansed. Run—don't walk—to your nearest priest (or, if necessary, a priest who isn't as near as you'd like him to be) and beg for absolution. If you're miles away from a priest, call and demand an appointment. Do whatever it takes to get his attention. Crash the party.

Jesus will be delighted! And if that's not good enough, here's the kicker: you'll receive His Mercy!

Sacramental Confession. Go for it. Because the truth is, even if it might seem as if you're a party crasher? You really aren't.

You've got a standing invitation!