For the readings, please see this link: 11th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C Readings PDF
In the Gospel reading we hear the story of the sinful woman who bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears, and we hear Jesus rebuke the Pharisee who holds in his heart judgment of the woman. Connected to this story from the Gospel we hear the second half of the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah the Hittite. These stories together are a reminder to us of why we weep and what is truly important. Like the Pharisee, we do not always see what is important. Unlike the sinful woman, we do not always weep when we should or for the right things.
Why do we weep? We weep for the distance between the mire of the here and now and the glory for which we were eternally intended. We do not know much about this woman, other that she had a bad name about town. Already in your mind’s eye you see a couple of people when you hear the phrase “bad name about town.” I thought of a country club woman who slept around on her husband, and everybody knew it.
In truth, I do not know that country club woman. I never met her, I am not a member of her country club, and if she walked up to me today it would be the first time I ever laid eyes upon her face. I am just passing on gossip. But see how quickly I made hay with the gossip. I still remember it, long after the time when it was shared with me. If I ever did see her and make the connection, I am sure I would roll my eyes knowingly, just like the Pharisee did with the sinful woman. Yet, I have no idea of the truth of the gossip or the circumstances of the country club woman and her husband.
Perhaps the woman at the feet of our Lord wept because she was falsely accused of sin. Perhaps the gossip I just shared with you is false. Perhaps she wept because it really was true. If so, her tears were the tears of one who laments the distance between what she was made for and where she found herself. We should all weep that way, for all of us are far from where God wants us.
God wants us with Him! When we rejected Him in the Garden of Eden, He never gave up on us. He kept us safe and called us home many times over the centuries through the prophets from Moses to Ezra. He finally came himself in the flesh to redeem us and bridge the unbridgeable chasm that separated us from Him. We who have received him personally in our lives, in our hearts, and in our mouths through the Eucharist, remain stumbling like the sinful woman. And we should weep like her.
We do not weep tears of despair, however. We weep tears of delay. We know that at some point after we die, we will be like the creatures in Heaven. We will be eternally praising him. From the vision of Isaiah and the Revelation of John, we have the foreknowledge of the Heavenly praise fest: Seraphim and cherubim continually do cry, Hosanna in the highest.
But the mire of the here and now remains here and now. King David lived in the here and now, and the story from 2 Samuel is an important reminder of what God really wants from us. We read the second part of the three-part story. So let us take a moment to be reminded of the first part.
David was King of all Israel. Yet, he gave in to sin, just like any other man. He gave in to the sin of not respecting boundaries. When he saw from his rooftop a pretty woman taking a bath, he did not look away but was a Peeping Tom. When his eye was delighted by what he saw, he gave in to lust and took the woman to his bed. He knew she was somebody else’s wife, but he gave in to adultery anyway. He got her pregnant, and he gave in to deceit by trying to get her husband to come home from the war and have marital relations with her and cloud the issue of paternity. The husband remained continent for religious reasons, so David arranged to have him die in battle in the thickest part of the fighting. There is simply no way after hearing this story to describe David as anything but a sinful man.
Being king, David did not have a lot of guys who would tell him he had gone astray. The prophet Nathan was the only one who would tell him, which is where we pick up the story. David should weep for his sins, he should weep for the distance between himself and God, and he should weep because he created the distance.
And David does weep. His weeping is Psalm 51. Have mercy on me, O God. Wipe away my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart. You know this psalm.
David is important for the same reason the woman at Jesus’ feet is important. Both have a heart for God and a clear understanding of our current human condition. We are not worthy to stand before our God on our own merits. He makes us worthy, through the blood of the lamb. So the Cross should make us weep, as the price for our redemption was the slaughter of the Lamb.
After we weep, we should shout a victory cry. For the sins are forgiven. The Cross is also a victory song, as it was the means of our redemption. We are redeemed. David had a heart for God, and that matters more than the wicked, wicked deeds he committed. If we seek reconciliation with our Lord and our brethren, we return to right relationship and reclaim our salvation.
So, while we should weep, weeping is not all we should do.