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.
There are three basic ways to reflect on today’s gospel. First of all, consider the Pharisee and then the woman. Jesus is an invited guest, but Simon shows him no signs of hospitality—no foot washing, no hand anointing, no welcoming kiss. The invitation seems less about hospitality and more about curiosity and inquisition. The Pharisee is also quick to judge. Moreover, if he does not see himself as a sinful man, he cannot be forgiven.
Then there is the woman. Some exegetes tell us that she was forgiven her sins before the evening dinner. What we have here at the dinner is a great outpouring of love that springs from having received forgiveness. Clearly she is a woman of great capacity both to receive forgiveness and to give love. It looks as if the Pharisee has neither.
Finally the story turns toward us. How do we treat a forgiven sinner? And how do we ourselves respond to Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and love?
Lord, help me refrain from judging others. Help me turn attention to my own sins and to your willingness to forgive.