Gospel: Lk 7:36-50
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share his meal, so he went to the Pharisee’s home, and as usual reclined at the table to eat. And it happened that, a woman of this town, who was known as a sinner, heard that he was in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and stood behind him, at his feet, weeping. She wet his feet with tears; she dried them with her hair; she kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus was watching, and thought, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what sort of person is touching him; isn’t this woman a sinner?” Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and said, “Simon, I have something to ask you.” He answered, “Speak, master.” And Jesus said, “Two people were in debt to the same creditor. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. As they were unable to pay him back, he graciously canceled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, who was forgiven more.” And Jesus said, “You are right.” And turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? You gave me no water for my feet when I entered your house; but she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t welcome me with a kiss; but she has not stopped kissing my feet since she came in. You provided no oil for my head; but she has poured perfume on my feet. This is why, I tell you, her sins, her many sins, are forgiven, because of her great love. But the one who is forgiven little, has little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others reclining with him at the table began to wonder, “Now this man claims to forgive sins!” But Jesus again spoke to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace!”
Both Simon, the Pharisee, and Jesus encounter the same woman. But each of them sees her differently. Simon labelled her a ‘sinner.’ She has a less dignified reputation. Is she not a prostitute? Mingling her reputation with her current behavior leads Simon to certain conclusions of both her and his guest. Clearly – if Jesus is so significant – he should also know ‘…who and what kind of woman this is…’ Common convention expected a host to welcome with water, a kiss, an anointing. It may seem extravagant, but after walking in the dust and dirt a greeting like this would bring some relief. It indicated arrival at a place of safety and rest. It was an act of service. But Jesus it seems, despite being invited by Simon, was not welcomed properly. The woman’s willingness to openly break into the Pharisee’s world of dignity and order is a daring gesture. Her actions challenge the poor hospitality Simon offered to Jesus. Jesus, too, addresses his lack of social graces. Jesus also takes the opportunity to highlight the love and faith of the very one Simon’s thoughts have cast aside. Simon wanted to cast her out. Jesus allowed her to touch and love him. Her gesture called for mercy and forgiveness. She is forgiven and given new life. Simon failed to love and showed no mercy. Jesus gave her dignity back.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2018