One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.”
“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Today’s Scripture readings address multiple issues, especially the reality of forgiveness. In the first reading, King David says: “I have sinned against the Lord.” And then we hear that he is forgiven. In the second reading we hear St. Paul say we are justified [God’s act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin; being right with God] through belief in Jesus Christ. Finally, in the gospel, we hear Jesus tell the Pharisee Simon, in whose house Jesus is dining: “Little is forgiven the one whose love is small.” After saying this to Simon, Jesus then forgives the sinful woman who had bathed his feet with her tears.
In the spirit of these readings, let us ponder:
Is there someone whom I should ask for
forgiveness? If yes, why haven’t I asked?
If yes, when will I ask?
Is there anyone who needs my forgiveness?
If yes, am I willing to forgive? If yes, but
I am not willing to forgive, why not?
We must remember that God is always ready
to open the door; God is very willing to meet
us as we journey towards Him; and…
God forgives countlessly!
—Fr. Tim Shepard, S.J. is a pastoral minister, librarian, and
retreat director living at Colombiere, the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit retirement center in Clarkston MI.
Lord, this day we say “Yes” to your mercy. We will acknowledge our break in trust with you and others. We will ask forgiveness and move forward with integrity. If we feel unworthy of your forgiveness and move away from you, we are simply imposing a limit on your love. Lord, give us the grace to embrace your forgiveness and help us to understand how we are to forgive when we have been deeply hurt.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team