The Sweet Smell of WorshipFr. Barnabas Powell
A certain man married, had children, and became a very wealthy businessman. His fortune was world renowned. As his children grew, they got the best of everything – the best schools, the best clothes, the best food, and the best connections their father’s wealth could provide.
This man’s children were blessed beyond their wildest dreams.
As the oldest entered his teenage years, the father continued to lavish abundance on the young man, and the young man became expectant, lazy, and directionless. As each child entered the teenage years, the father learned more and more the lesson that what a person doesn’t work for, they often take for granted and become intoxicated with their own expectations.
The youngest son entered his teen years with these words from his father: “Son, I love you, and while it may seem unfair to you now, I have learned my lesson when it comes to providing you children with all these luxuries. So, if you want a car, you have to get a job and pay for the insurance and upkeep to your car. If you want to go out and have fun with your friends, you have to earn any extra spending money beyond your allowance I give you. You have to learn how to earn or you won’t have the tools to survive. I love you, son.”
The youngest son eventually took over dad’s business and made a huge success as well.
In today’s Gospel Lesson we see our Lord deal with something similar. He is at dinner with a local religious leader and during dinner a woman comes into the dining room and begins washing the Lord’s feet with her tears and pouring perfume on His feet. The aroma of the perfume filled the house and no one could escape the actions and devotion of this dear lady. But the religious leader knew this lady had a “reputation” and he began to wonder in his heart about the Lord’s willingness to allow this woman to act this way.
The Lord told the man a story about two men who owed debts. One man owed a small debt and one man owed a large dept. They were both forgiven their debt and the Lord asked the religious leader which man was more grateful? He answered that one forgiven the larger debt was more grateful. The Lord proceeded to apply this wisdom to both the religious man and the lady and her act of loving devotion. He ends by saying “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (see Luke 7:36-50)
The truth is I am never going to be so devoted to God or free to actually learn how to lovingly adore Him unless I am humble enough to admit how much I need His mercy and forgiveness. In fact, I will go so far as to say it is only my blindness to the depth of my need for God’s mercy and love that keeps me from actually worshiping Him. When I feel entitled, when I feel imposed upon, when I feel the need to have my way, I reveal the poverty of my heart and the very reason my spiritual life isn’t growing as it should.
My own delusion of competence, my own delusion of “rightness,” blinds me and stifles my ability to truly worship God. Notice, this lady probably had a clear idea that everyone in town knew her reputation. She knew she wasn’t invited to this dinner party. She knew the man who owned the house was a respected religious leader in the town. She knew she was going where she didn’t fit in, where she didn’t “belong.” But her love and devotion and thankfulness to Christ overcame all those barriers and she knew she had to worship! So she did. And we remember her love and devotion to this day.
Today, what keeps you from truly adoring God? What hinders your freedom to be a grateful and loving son or daughter of your heavenly Father? What stands in your way? Whatever stands in your way is ultimately closer to God than you are!
Today, let us put aside any notion of self centered pride and humbly confess our moment by moment need for God’s mercy and grace and let us be thankful that He is always quick to forgive, quick to show mercy, and quick to reconcile. Let us brush past all the temporary reasons that keep us from living a life grateful and free and enter into the sweet-smelling moment when we worship our Loving Lord and hear Him say “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”