FROM A READING FOR JUNE 13, ELEVENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

'The great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.' Luke 7:47

A friend, a student of Rev. Richard Rohr, recently mentioned that the well-known writer and teacher has stopped referring to the period which closes his lectures as the "question and answer" session. He's now labeling it "question and response" time.

His change in words is significant. Having been reared as a Catholic against the background of Greek thought, either/or reasoning, I presumed catechisms were the end-all and be-all of a perfect faith. They supplied an answer for every question.

Once I evolved into employing the Semitic, both/ and mindset of our sacred authors, I discovered that people of faith are fortunate just to be able to ask the right questions.

Sometimes, instead of an answer, we simply receive a response which leads to another question, often more complicated than our original query.

More than rules
In today's second reading (Galatians 2:16,19-21), Paul ex-plains why a question/re-sponse process is essential to our Christian experience: We follow a person, not a set of rules and regulations.

The Apostle writes Galatians because some in that church were convinced that the action which saved followers of Jesus wasn't their relationship with Him, but observance of the 613 laws of Moses. Paul reminds his communities that those who aspire to becoming other Christs must be willing to imitate the death and resurrection of the first Christ.

Here, Paul presents one of the ways the original Jewish Christians were expected to die. "Through the law," he writes, "I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me."

I presume many couples, on their wedding day, think all they have to do to have a successful marriage is to follow the rules our society and Church have developed through the centuries.

I often encouraged my high school marriage course students to go beyond those rules and concentrate on giving themselves deeply to their partners. Compared to such day-by-day generous, unpredictable giving, following rules and regulations is relatively easy - just like receiving answers to all our faith questions.

Complications
Working constantly at being one with another is much more complicated. No wonder Paul had problems with the "law-abiding" Christians in Galatia.

As we hear in our first reading (II Samuel 12:7-10,13), there are times when not even Yahweh follows the rules. In this situation, God's relationship with David, the adulterer and murderer, is more important than making certain David's correctly punished for those crimes. Though the rules say he should die, Yahweh decrees he shall live.

In a parallel way, Luke not only has Jesus forgive the sinful, loving woman in this Sunday's Gospel (Luke 7:36-8:3), but his words and actions bring up a question which still haunts Christianity today: How do women fit into Jesus' plan of salvation?

We know from Mark and Matthew's account of Jesus' death that the women, watching His crucifixion from a distance, had accompanied Him to Jerusalem.

Even before Jesus begins His long Lucan journey to the city, Luke names several women who not only were Jesus' disciples, but also provided for Him and His other followers. Whenever Jesus' companions are mentioned, we're to presume women are among them.

(06/10/10)