Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Be Merciful to Me, a Sinner

By Beth DeCristofaro

…Set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that (Jesus) 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…He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:37-38, 48)

(O God,) Merciful One, there have been times when I have made choices and decisions that were not in keeping with the message and values of your son, Jesus.  Forgive me for the distance that I place between you and myself.  Keep calling me home to you when I get lost on the road to your love.  Faithful God, your forgiveness and love are powerful reminders of who you are.  As I experience your goodness through the sacraments, people, nature and events of my days, draw me ever nearer to your heart.  Deepen in me a desire to share this love with others.[i]

Over the years, I’ve met and worked with many people who describe themselves as recovering from addiction even though they have been sober for years and years.  For many who experienced that moment of “hitting the bottom,” perhaps losing their family or waking up in a drunk tank, they have dedicated much of their recovering efforts to making amends.  Many are active in 12-step programs serving as mentors, 24 hours on call each day for a mentee who might be facing a crisis of decision.  Some become addiction counselors, sharing their hard-won wisdom, patience and perseverance to people struggling in recovery. 

Many live with a sense of gratitude for their recovery and seek to serve others in order to share their victory, their hope.  Some directly credit Jesus’ grace and intervention for their survival.  A dear man with whom I worked told me that each morning, waking up sober, he would say his prayers and hear Jesus invite him home.  Although my friend always answered “Not today, Jesus, not today, but soon,” he lived with the joy that he was loved and his home was ready for him with a loving, forgiving Savior.

The sinful woman who wept and ministered to Jesus was a model such as Paul described in today’s Epistle.  Her loving act was misread by Simon.  Do we continue to judge those who ask forgiveness of us?  Do we exact payback or model “in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity?”

[i] Out of the Ordinary: Prayers, Poems, and Reflections for Every Season, Joyce Rupp, Ave Maria Press, 2000, p. 135.

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