1.2Sm 12:7-10.13
2.Gal 2:16.19-21
Gospel: Lk 7:36-8:3

                                       " The accusing finger"
There is a story told of a cookie thief and a woman. It happened that a woman at the air port waiting to catch her flight bought herself a bag of cookies, thus after buying that bag of cookies settled herself in a chair in the airport lounge and began to read her novel. Suddenly she noticed that  a man beside her helping himself with cookies from the cookie bag between them. Not wanting to make the investigation, she read on, ate cookies, and watched the clock. As the " daring cookie thief" kept on eating the cookies she got more irritated and said to herself, " If I wasn't so nice  I would blacken his eye!" with each cookie she took he took one too. When only one was left, she wondered what he would do. Then with a smile on his face and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half. He gave her half, and he ate the other. She snatched it from him and said to herself, " Oh brother, this guy has some nerve, and he is also so rude, why didn't he also show any  gratitude!" She sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and then headed to the for the gate, refusing to look at the ungrateful "thief" She boarded the plane and sank in her seat, then reached in her bag to fetch her novel, and what she saw made her gasp wit surprise. For there in front of her eyes were her bag of cookies. Then it dawned on her that the cookies they ate in the lounge was man's and not hers, that the man was not a thief but a friend who tried to share, that she was the rude one, the ungrateful one, the thief.

Basing our minds on the example of cookie thief we have heard, as we see in today's gospel, it often happens that one pointing the accusing finger turns out to be the guilty one, the complaint sometimes turns out to be the offending party. In the story as we have heard the woman believed she was a wonderful person to put up and bear the rudeness and ingratitude of the man sitting beside her, however in the end she discovered that she was the rude and ungrateful one and the man was wonderfully friendly. Likewise, in the gospel, the Pharisee thinks that he is the only one being righteous and worthy to be in Jesus' company and that the woman was sinful one unworthy to be seen with Jesus. In the end Jesus showed each of them where they really belonged, finally the woman was seen as the one being righteous than the Pharisee who justified himself to be righteous.

It is a practical example that it is easier to hear the snoring of the other person than to hear your own snoring. It is easier to notice the faults of other people while being blind to our own faults. Christian maturity entails in knowing one's limitations. People who become happy in criticizing others thereby betray their lack of self awareness. In the end they discover that they themselves are indeed  cookie thieves that they accused others to be. We can pose this question to ourselves today, that what was the mistake of the Pharisee? If the woman was indeed a prostitute where then did he err? After all what he said about the woman was true, wasn't it? obviously the woman was a sinner. In fact Jesus did not say that the woman was not a sinner. Jesus only said that the man was a sinner too, and in fact a worse sinner than the 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 ( Luke 7:44-47

The challenging notion in the gospel today is the Pharisees notion of sin and holiness. For the Pharisee the woman was an " occasion of sin" to be avoided by godly people. Jesus corrects him: It is not what you avoid counts, rather it is what you do. The Pharisee might indeed have avoided occasions of sin, but he did nothing for Jesus in need. The woman on the other hand attended and provided the practical needs of Jesus. Jesus in the gospel scenario accepts the woman's external show of love as the clear manifestation of inner faith: " Your faith has saved you; go in peace"( v50). The woman's gesture really shows the practical transcendence of deeds over the oral empty speeches. This practical engagement is the lesson for us since it teaches us the crucial difference between the woman and the Pharisee. The question to meditate here is that how do we employ our faith in practical service of the needy?

What is all about forgiveness? when we tend to think about things we have done or things done to us, we can perhaps say and mean, " It does not matter. Forget about it. No harm done." This is not what forgiveness means. Forgiveness is not required when something does not matter. For example when we bump into someone unintentionally and say, " sorry" or " forgive me", we are simply being polite. Being polite is a good thing. However, bumping someone intentionally is really not a matter that requires forgiveness.

Forgiveness has to do with real harm, real pain, real loss, either suffered or inflicted, by an act of carelessness of malevolence. It has do with an act of will- of failure to do what we ought to have done, or doing what we ought not to have done. Forgiveness is entailed in taking something that some has given us, something that has cost them time and effort, love and care- when we take such a gift and despise it or cast it aside or destroy it- then we require forgiveness.

There are three main types of forgiveness and all are interrelated. 1. Forgiveness of God-that assures us of our worth and strengthen us. 2. Forgiveness of others- the forgiveness that we extend to others and receive from them, intimates and enemies. 3. Self forgiveness- that which enables us to release our own guilt and lack of perfection.

We can ask ourselves many questions on this virtue of forgiveness. The question is why to forgive? first it sets you free. Forgiveness is not all about a sense of false humility that makes us better than somebody else, rather it is an attitude that sets us free, so that we are not continually re-victimized by our wounds.

When we forgive we avoid a penalty to be imposed to us for not granting forgiveness. The penalty we experience is the hurt that remains trapped within us, which rots a portion of our body, mind and soul daily. In order to heal ourselves  of the wounds inflicted upon us we must be willing to forgive those who hurt us, totally and unconditionally. It does not mean that  we must go and tell them that they are forgiven.

Many people are afraid to forgive because they feel they must remember the wrong or they will not learn from it. The opposite is true. Through forgiveness, the wrong is released from its emotional stranglehold on us so that we can learn from it. Through the power and intelligence of the heart, the release of forgiveness brings expanded intelligence to work with the situation more effectively" says McArthur. Forgiving is good for the body as well as for the  soul. Reliving past hurts over and over again is bad for your health. Simply remembering an incident that made a person angry has proved to be stressful for the heart. Negative feelings that cause stress have been linked to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and increased susceptibility to other illnesses.

Finally let us know and understand that forgiveness must not be selfish. If we desire to be forgiven by others for our offenses we must learn to forgive others also. If we seek forgiveness from God, we should learn to forgive others. If we desire that that God overlook our weaknesses, we should learn to over look weaknesses of others. Let us listen to the Lord's words, " If you forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your. But if you do not forgive men their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15)

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Chapisha Maoni