A reflection by Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP
June 12, 2016 ■ 11th Sunday in the Ordinary Time ■ Luke 7:36—8:3
“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love (Luke 7:47).”
Luke has a keen eye for the role of women in the life of Jesus and the Church. From the beginning of his Gospel to the end, he made sure that women have important role to play. Among the four Gospels, only Matthew and Luke wrote the infancy narrative. While Matthew had Joseph as the main character, Luke chose Mary as his protagonist. Thanks to Luke, we are able to mediate on the great stories of the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Presentation. Due to Luke also, we may sing Mary’s Magnificat.
In today’s Gospel, Luke presented several women and their important contributions. The first is the unnamed, yet repentant woman. The woman stands as contrast to the male host, Simon the Pharisee. While Simon felt right and needed no repentance, the woman admitted her sins and asked Jesus’ forgiveness. Jesus presented the woman as good model for us, Christians. Often like Simon the Pharisee, we feel we are in no need of repentance because we are Church’s people. We go to the Church regularly and we are active in various ministries. We feel just right. But, we are forgetting the elementary truth that everyone is a sinner and in need of His mercy. St. Paul reminds us, “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23-24).”
We remind ourselves that we are practically nothing without His love. The woman showed great love to Jesus. In return, she received forgiveness. We will love and serve the Lord because we are forgiven and loved. The repentant woman reminds us that humility and gratitude are the right dispositions to serve the Lord. It is not because we are good, capable, and talented.
After the story of the repentant woman, Luke also mentioned several women: Mary of Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and many others. All have something in common. They supported Jesus and His preaching ministry out of their own resources. Male disciples, like Peter, John and James have been always in the spotlight, but Luke gave us an idea that their ministry was practically impossible without the generous support of these women. Our Church inherited an apostolic tradition. This means that the apostles and their successors take the leadership helm. This means also our Catholic, Apostolic Church’s leadership is entrusted to men. Yet, we need to remember that without the generosity of women, this Church will not operate well.
I myself have experienced such generosity. I am part of the Lectors’ group of Sto. Domingo Parish in Metro Manila and many of its members are women. I am always amazed on how generous they are in their time and resources for the parish and ministry despite their problems and limitations. I am also member of the Dominican family, and our female counterpart plays indispensable role. Before he established the Order of Preachers, St. Dominic founded first the Dominican nuns in Prouille. One of the reasons is to spiritually support the rigorous preaching of the brothers. Up to this day, the Dominican sisters are in the forefront in supporting the brothers and the lay Dominicans. ■
Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP is a student brother from Palangkaraya, Indonesia. He made his profession to the Dominican Order on May 7, 2010. He finished his Bachelor of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines ■