Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I 2 Samuel 12:7-10
Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
Reading II St. Paul to the Galatians 2:16. 19-21
Gospel Luke 7:36, 8:3
This morning, when you put these readings together, one word describes Jesus as well as the woman, and that one word is extravagance. How extravagant are you and I? I am not talking about foolishly throwing things away, I’m talking about extravagant in the sense that there is so much joy and love in our lives that the more we give away the more we have.
Sometimes you and I play games with God and ourselves. There is a cute little story about a boy. When it was coming around Christmastime he wrote a letter to God. He said, “You know, God, I would like to have a bicycle for Christmas and if you see that I get this bicycle I will do something good all during the year.” He thought about it, wadded up the letter, threw it across the room, sat down, and wrote another letter. He said, “Dear God, you know I want this bicycle. If you see that I get a bicycle — for six months I will do something nice for my mom.” He thought about it, wadded up the letter, and threw it away. The boy sat down and wrote another letter. This time he said, “Dear God, you know I want this bicycle. The best I can do is for three months I will do something nice for a friend.” That still didn’t seem to do it.
On Sunday he went to church with his mom and dad and when he walked into church, for some reason the statue of the Blessed Mother caught his eye. But he went on in to Mass and while he was at Mass his mind was working and he told his Mom and Dad, “Why don’t you go on home.” They just lived a block from the church. “I will be home in a few minutes.” The parents didn’t think anything about it. They said, “Fine.” When everybody had left church, he went over to the shrine and took the Blessed Mother. He brought the Blessed Mother home and put her under his bed. Then he sat down and he wrote a letter. “Dear God, I’ve got your mother. If you want her back, I want that bicycle at Christmas.”
That little boy is you and I. We are always going to play games. We don’t really understand the extravagance of God’s mercy and love. God doesn’t say, “I’m sick of this side of the church. I’ve given you everything; now I’m going to overdose this side of the church.” God can’t do that. God can only keep pouring into each of our hearts everything that we need. He is asking us, “The only thing that really creates a difference between us is when you are like that little boy. I will never act like that little boy. I will always be giving you everything that you need in life. You may not always understand why certain gifts come to you. It is simply that I hold nothing against you.” God doesn’t say, “That last sin you confessed, well, you probably won’t have anything good coming in your life for years.” That is not God. God cannot live and love in that way.
We see that in our own lives. When parents love a child, no matter what that child does — they can’t stop loving. When two people are friends, no matter how they may hurt each other — there is something much deeper to their friendship. When you and I come here for Mass — there is something much deeper that we can put a price tag on to it. It is for us to say, “God, I want to thank you. I do not know everyone here at Blessed Sacrament by name. I do not know where they all live, I don’t know where they work, I don’t know their birthdays. But I do know that we have something in common. We all come here because you are the most extravagant person we have ever encountered. You will provide.”
All we have to do is say, “Lord, I made a mistake.” We get greedy and when we become greedy the extravagance disappears. In that First Reading: The king, the ruler, had all kinds of wives and he still wasn’t satisfied. But when he saw the wife of one of his soldiers, he wanted her. And after he encountered her, he killed her husband and thought, “I’ve washed away everything.” But then Jesus comes and says, “You can’t wash away those things. You really have to come to me and let my extravagance overwhelm you so that I will always forgive you. I am the ‘hound of heaven,’ and I will follow you wherever you go. You can never hide from me. You can never make a deal with me like the little boy. All I can do is just love you until you come fully alive.”
So this morning may we allow God’s extravagance to overwhelm us during the week. Let us stop and think every night when we go to bed, “How did God show his extravagance to me? I am certainly not perfect. I had a good day, but it wasn’t the best — but yet God loves me. And when I begin to think of the good things that happen, the little things that irritate me just gradually disappear.”
The body and blood of Christ is the most extravagant gift God gives us. May we receive it with joy, may we celebrate it by giving it away, and may all of us change ourselves and each other through the extravagance of the one who loves us most.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0046)