First Reading: 1 Timothy 4:12-16
Beloved: Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 111:7-8, 9, 10
How great are the works of the Lord! The works of his hands are faithful and just; sure are all his precepts, Reliable forever and ever, wrought in truth and equity. He has sent deliverance to his people; he has ratified his covenant forever; holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it. His praise endures forever.
Gospel: Luke 7:36-50
A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he 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. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Certainly if you asked me if I am ashamed of Jesus, my answer would be a quick and decisive “no.”
And the thought of standing before the throne of grace only to have Him feel ashamed of me?
Well, that’s downright terrifying.
And, yet, if I am honest, shame plays an all too real role in my life.
It creeps in when I wake up in the morning and find a sink full of dishes I meant to do the night before but somehow didn’t get to. It flushes my cheeks when my husband has to ask for clean underwear or a towel. It makes my hands itch when I realize I have forgotten to respond to email or text in a timely fashion.
If I am not careful, shame can become a driving force that pushes me hard into a vicious cycle of striving and never being enough.
What does it say about the God who made me and died to save me that I would let shame determine who I am and how I live my days?
Surely it does not say that I am confident and unafraid because I know that I serve a God who loves me and gave Himself to save me.
Surely it does not speak with the confidence of one troubled by no man because she bears the marks of Jesus.
It is not the attitude of one who has learned to take up her cross daily and follow Him.
If I am made in the image and likeness of this God who offers me a confident faith, and I believe I am defined only by what He has already done for me, then there is no place for shame in my life.
I cannot walk around feeling less-than in the eyes of the world and say I am not ashamed of Jesus.
Because He is the defining factor of my life. I am an image bearer of His likeness, goodness, holiness, and loveliness.
When I look in the mirror, and in the dirty sink, and at the spewing laundry pile, do I flush with shame or breathe in the confident hope that Jesus walks with me into my inadequacies and redeems them?
When I slow myself down and sit at His feet, do I burn with discontentment at who I am and what I am able to do, like Martha, or do I drink deeply of His grace and hold to Him as He tells me that I am, like Mary?
If I find myself falling into shame, let me make today the day I remember that I am a new creation, one that bears the scars of Christ’s love for her. And that in His saving grace, I am have nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, I can live with eager expectation and courage that I will honor Christ.
I will honor Christ. Me with my stretch marks and scattered brain. Me with my hot tears and anxious heart. Me with the dirty dishes and basket of mismatched socks. I will honor Christ because I bear the glory of His redemption in my being.
What an amazing thought.
And if I can dare to let myself believe it, I can release the stronghold of shame on my life and walk fully free in Him, straight into the glory of His Kingdom come.
Let’s walk free together, shall we?
Today when you come face to face with your inadequacies, speak these words to yourself, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed.” Then ask the Holy Spirit to come and help you to truly believe them.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.