Are You Man Enough?
11th Sunday of the Year (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Or are you woman enough?

Every culture has its prevailing and accepted model of masculinity or femininity. The model varies with time but certain traits are considered constants. In many cultures a real man is supposed to display physical strength, courage, and toughness. The real man is a warrior. On the other hand a real woman is caring, supportive, and tender. The prevailing model is that of the mother. In Filipino myths the primordial man was Malakas (strong) and the primordial woman was Maganda (beautiful).

Action starter: Show some character. Say “I’m sorry.”

Jungian psychology speaks of the collective unconscious. Certain types or images arise and become dominant in the course of a culture’s historical development. Beside being the warrior, the other prevailing images of a man are that of the father, the wise man, or the adventurer. On the other hand, beside the prevailing image of the mother, a woman can also be a fighter, a healer, and a companion. Typologies are generalizations and there can be exceptions to the types. These days for example, there is the emergence of the metro-sexual man. He is not the sweaty macho type. He may be a heterosexual but beside pumping iron at the gym he gets a regular facial treatment at the spa.

The readings this Sunday show us two images of a man and a woman. They were both sinners. There was King David in the first reading. He was a warrior and a ruler. He typified the macho man. He also fell victim to a typical masculine weakness. He desired another woman, a married woman in fact. He stopped at nothing to get her, to the point of ordering her husband killed. The gospel shows us a dramatic scene. A woman known to be the town sinner (an adulteress or a prostitute) gate crashed the party of Simon the Pharisee and wept at the feet of Jesus, bathing His feet with her tears and expensive perfume.

Both David and the woman were great sinners. They desired other men and women. They showed the shadow side of masculinity and femininity. They were man and woman enough to rise above the shadows. They became heroic figures by accepting their own sinfulness and by asking for forgiveness. David was man enough to repent and the 51st Psalm is his prayer of repentance. The sinful woman did not say anything but her actions spoke loudly of her contrition.

To accept our own sinfulness is not a show of weakness. Every person has a shadow side. There are skeletons we hide in our closet. We do not become less a man or less a woman by saying, “I’m sorry.” Rather, we become better men and women by being humble enough to seek forgiveness. David and the woman of the gospel were both forgiven by God.

Are you man enough?