The Gospel according to Luke (7:36-50)
A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “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?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, open our hearts so we may receive the grace of this gospel reading. My we kneel at your feet in supplication and gratitude for the forgiveness you always ready to offer for our inequities.
Encountering Christ: Imagine being in the room with Jesus and other guests at Simon the Pharisee’s house when the women interrupts the meal and conversation to be at the feet of Jesus. We know she washes his feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, kisses and anoints them. We do not know this woman’s name. So, what do we know about her?
Obviously, she is a woman. What may have made the encounter awkward is that she was crashing a gathering of prominent men.
She is sinful. In a gathering of prominent religious leaders, she would most certainly not be welcomed.
But foremost, she knew where Jesus was and sought him out, risking much to seek his healing touch. Although she may not have suffered from a physical ailment she was suffering. Sin is an affliction that debilitates both weak and strong, young and old, men and women. And if left unattended can lead to many hardships including death. She apparently was carrying the burden of sin.
Many of us have dealt with being some where we are not welcome, among people of prominence who looked down on us. Unfortunately, we may also have been on the other side and judged and treated others harshly because we did not think they belonged or deserved mercy and forgiveness.
Jesus, the high priest, greatest of all teachers, and ultimate physician of heart and soul consistently encounters situations, people who are on the fridges of society and reminds us why he came to be among us. He came to heal the wounded, to provide a place for the outcast, to give all an opportunity that many withhold because they want to be God.
Do we have the courage to approach Jesus with our sins? Do we have the humility and love the woman demonstrated to Jesus by gently and with great care washing his feet with our tears and wipe them with our hair? This is not the act of a coward but of a person with hope and faith. She knew Jesus could restore her. Do we have the same faith?
Closing Prayer: Dear Jesus on any given day we may owe fifty or five hundred days wages. May our tendency toward sin be outweighed by our desire for your mercy and forgiveness. And may we be as ready to forgive as you are.
Action for the Day: In prayer and or study seek the grace we need to approach Jesus and ask for his healing touch. Maybe, seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then share what you receive with the one who needs it the most.