SEPTEMBER 16. Ord Time B. Wk 24. Thu. Lk 7. 36-50
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses 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 this woman is that is touching him and what a bad name she has.’ Then Jesus took him up and said, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Speak, Master’ was the reply. ‘There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. They were unable to pay, so he pardoned them both. Which of them will love him more?’ ‘The one who was pardoned more, I suppose’ answered Simon. Jesus said, ‘You are right.’
Then he turned to the woman. ‘Simon,’ he said ‘you see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love. It is the man who is forgiven little who shows little love.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man, that he even forgives sins?’ But he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’
The prime lesson Jesus is teaching in this gospel text is how he loves sinners and welcomes them to approach him both before and after repentance, with the overriding teaching being the simple fact he loves them.
This is an important lesson as it is easy, and even natural, to think Christ does not love sinners in the same way he loves his faithful followers; - in fact in his teachings he taught exactly that. “If one of you has ninety-nine sheep, and loses one, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go off in search of the one he has lost; - and when he finds it he rejoices even more?”
We all need to be conscious of this teaching because we are all sinners, and it is so easy, after we have sinned, to think that God’s love for us ‘went out the window’ when we failed to follow his teachings. This is not the case!
We only have to look at the actions of earthly parents to see even sinful people do not act this way when their children make mistakes or do wrong. They have the ability to be “disappointed”; - but it is generally accepted the parents love for the child continues, and what happens is they are patient in waiting for the child to repent and join the family again.
The Pharisees views are revealed in this reading and amount to “Good people do not spend time with people who are sinners,” however Jesus rejects their thinking; - pointing out the woman’s actions reveal great love; - and that is all that is needed in order to obtain forgiveness!
The woman had faith, repented, confessed her sins, and was forgiven; - because of her love!
Gospel Acclamation Mt11:28
Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
First reading 1 Timothy 4:12-16 · Be an example to all the believers
Do not let people disregard you because you are young, but be an example to the believers in the way you speak and behave, and in your love, your faith and your purity. Make use of the time until I arrive by reading to the people, preaching and teaching. You have in you a spiritual gift which was given to you when the prophets spoke and the body of elders laid their hands on you; do not let it lie unused. Think hard about all this, and put it into practice, and everyone will be able to see how you are advancing. Take great care about what you do and what you teach; always do this, and in this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.