Sunday, June 12, 2016

Reflection: Luke 7:36-8:3

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Luke 7:36-8:3

This Gospel passage began as a Pharisee invited Jesus to come to his house for dinner. Jesus accepted the man’s invitation.  Jesus entered the Pharisee’s home and reclined at table.  After a time, a woman appeared unexpectedly behind Jesus.  Luke writes: “She was a sinful woman.”  This woman had heard that Jesus was in the city and when she found out that he was at the home of the Pharisee, she immediately went to the house and entered it. 

The woman had brought an alabaster flask of ointment.  She stood behind Jesus at his feet; she was quietly weeping.  The woman began to bathe Jesus’ feet with her tears.  She then wiped his feet with her hair and anointed them with the expensive ointment.  Simon, Jesus’ host, watched all of this.  As he was watching, he also was judging Jesus was judging the woman as well.  After a time, Simon thought to himself: “If this man truly is a prophet, surely he would recognize that the woman who is bathing his feet and touching him is a sinner.”  I suspect that Simon’s disapproval was written all over his face.

Jesus was well aware of what Simon was thinking.  Jesus looked at Simon and gave him the familiar scenario of the two debtors who owed money to a creditor: one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other one owed fifty days’ wages.  Neither debtor was able to repay the debt.  When the creditor realized that neither one had the money to repay him, he generously forgave their debt.  Imagine the shock the debtors must have experienced at the creditor’s generosity.  They must have been overwhelmed with amazement and gratitude.

Then Jesus asked Simon: “Which one of these men will love him more?”  Naturally, Simon answered: “The one who owed the most money.”  I wonder if the Pharisee grasped the point Jesus was making?  Did he even begin to comprehend what Jesus was saying to him?  Or was he so entrenched in his own belief system that what Jesus said was ludicrous to him?

I wonder how we would react if this scene were reenacted in our lives?  Would we also be shocked by Jesus’ actions?  Would we comprehend the great gift Jesus gave to this woman? Would we criticize Jesus just as Simon did?  Or would we be astonished by Jesus’ gentle, loving, and forgiving spirit, no matter how great the woman’s sin had been?

The good news for us is that when we sin, Jesus also will love and forgive us, just as he lovingly forgave this woman. Do we believe and trust this reality? Let us come to Jesus and be forgiven!

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