My Dear Sisters and Brothers! If we classify the scene recorded by St Luke as moving it is only because Jesus has given us an insight into the soul of that woman. Our eyes don’t see any sexual connotation here, do they? On the contrary we see the beginning of a new stage in her life. A similar beginning we can observe in the first reading. King David, the beloved and chosen by the Almighty leader of the People of God, messed up his life. He took as his lover the wife of his soldier and in order to cover it up he had the soldier killed. From this atrocious situation however he emerges saying: “I have sinned against the Lord.” Someone who is for gender equality could say: What a lovely balance in the readings for this Sunday which show that men are not the only sinners. Women sin too.” However these readings are not about equality in sinning. These reading are not even about sin. They are about conversion and a new beginning.
How come that David repented? How come that the woman who had a bad name repented? Was it because of their will power? Was it because of their New Year resolutions, or maybe their Mid-Year resolutions? If you perused this approach you will be like children who say that “the glass got broken” or that “milk got spilled” or that “jacket got torn off.” My parents used to comment, when they heard those revelations from us, that we lived in a magical world where glasses moved themselves to the edge of the table, where milk jumped out of a jug, where sleaves run away from the jacket, etc. We know that there is always someone responsible for a broken glass, spilled milk or damaged jacket.
How does it apply to David and the woman from the Gospel? If God could leave finger prints they would be all over the David’s palace and the town where the woman lived. No one can sincerely turn to God without God working first that grace of conversion.
In the Bible there is a book which unfortunately is not read very often. It is the Book of Lamentations. It was written when the People of Israel went through the unimaginable destruction of their country. Their capital Jerusalem was burnt down. The majority of the population was taken into exile. Everything collapsed. They lost everything. Now they examine what was the reason for that desolation. They admit that it was because they ignored God in their private, family, social and even religious life. They admit that the walls of the magnificent temple built by King Salomon were also the boundaries of their religiosity. They were religious when they turned up to the Temple but walking out of if they would leave their religion inside the Temple.
When they found themselves prisoners in a foreign land they not only confessed their wrong doing but they also confessed that they could not fix themselves up. That’s why in the final verses of that Lamentations Book, after having poured out their helplessness, they cry out to heavens: “Make us come back to you, O Lord, and we will come back. Renew our days as in times past.”
My Dear Friends! A prisoner who was once pardoned wrote: “This pardon can open the gate of prison but it doesn’t change my heart. If one’s heart was that of a murderer it is still the same. If one’s heart was that of a thief it is still the same.” Very honest admission, isn’t it? What is missing however is what we prayed for at the beginning of this Mass: “O God, strength of those who hope in you, graciously hear our pleas, and since without you mortal frailty can do nothing, grant us always the help of your grace.”
Our conversion always originates in God’s doing. That scene from the Gospel could be scandalous enough for a Current Affair to make a story but for us it is an insight into the soul of a woman who responded to what God did for her when she was far away from him.