Another Interesting E-Mail

My fiancé and I are getting married in Virginia, a simple backyard wedding. Our brother in law needs a sponsor to be our minister and is already ordained. Would you be willing to sponsor him and then we would need to get approved by the county of — to perform the ceremony. Please let us know if that is possible. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, [names of couple withheld]

Dear — & — ,

I congratulate you on your engagement. May the Lord pour out His blessings on you.

I’m sure your brother-in-law is an estimable gentleman. It would be a grave violation of our sacred trust, however, for any Catholic priest to do as you propose. We priests must always follow the Church’s laws, which require that marriages occur in a church.

Maybe you could think about getting married in church? Asking the Lord’s blessing on your married life?

If you don’t have a church you regularly attend on Sundays, you are welcome at St. Andrew’s (in Roanoke). I would be happy to meet with you to help you plan how to prepare for the sacrament of marriage. (It would involve becoming Catholic, if you aren’t already–but Catholic marriages are the best!)

Love, Fr. Mark

Parable of the Two Debtors

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? (Luke 7:41-42)

Leave it to the one and only divine Messiah to fill a brief episode during a dinner party with so much meaning.

We gather that, upon arriving at the Pharisee’s house, the Lord received only the bare minimum of polite welcome.

Herein we discover Lesson #1: The lowest pit of hell holds all the people who have received the divine Messiah with curt politeness. Better to spit on His feet than to treat Him merely as a marginally respectable intrusion into my precious life. The better course of action is, of course, to bathe His feet with kisses and tears of repentance for all my sins.

Returning to the episode: The Lord proceeded to say to the nervous Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” To which the Pharisee responded, “Tell me, teacher.”

Lesson #2: There is hope for this Pharisee yet. He listened.

I may be nervous. I may be judgmental. I may be a gossiping snob who hides behind icy good manners. But if I am prepared to listen to the words of Jesus Christ, then there is still hope for me.

Then the Lord proceeded to tell a very short parable, which only makes sense one way. It only makes sense if: 1. We are all sinners, and I am the worst. 2. Jesus is God, Who is prepared to forgive any sin. 3. The best way to respond to all this is to bathe the feet of Christ with my kisses and tears of joy in His goodness.

Simon managed to deduce the meaning of the Lord’s parable. Quite frankly, the meaning of the parable is perfectly obvious. Another lesson: Confessing our sins and receiving God’s pardon does not require rocket science. Few things can be accomplished more easily. All it takes is a priest, an act of contrition, and a firm purpose of amendment.

The Lord Jesus concluded the episode by telling the woman with the sweet-smelling oil that her faith had saved her. Have peace, your faith has saved you.

What did the woman believe, exactly? She believed that the loving Heart of Jesus is the loving Heart of Almighty God, the loving Heart of the One just Judge, Who can and does forgive sins.