Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Little Something Extra...Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel, Luke 7:38 – 8:3, we read about the sinful woman who approached Jesus at the house of Simon the Pharisee. The woman did something very strange, at least in the eyes of the other guests (not that she herself was a guest, for she was clearly uninvited and unwanted by most of the party). While Jesus was reclining at the table, the woman came up behind Him with an alabaster flask of ointment (which would have been quite an expensive commodity). At first she merely stood behind Jesus, weeping, but then she approached Him, fell at His feet, and began to wash them with her tears. She dried Jesus' feet with her hair, kissed them, and then anointed them with the costly ointment. 

The other guests were shocked. This was not behavior that they would have seen at any other dinner party anywhere ever. In fact, it was scandalous. For a woman with a bad reputation to touch a man of Jesus' status, or any man at all for that matter, was a major way! Simon the Pharisee, the host, was appalled. He thought 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 didn't have to hear Simon's words spoken out loud to know His host's opinion. Jesus turned to Simon and replied to his unspoken complaint with a story. There were once two debtors. One owed his creditor a huge sum of money, five hundred day's wages. The other owed a smaller but still significant amount of fifty day's wages. They were both unable to pay, but the creditor, being a merciful man, took pity on them and forgave their debts. They were free. Jesus asked Simon which of the two debtors would love the creditor more. Simon reluctantly replied that it would be the one who had owed the greatest amount. 

Jesus agreed. He had made His point. The woman before them was a great sinner. We don't know exactly what she had done. She could have been a prostitute. She may have stolen a large amount of money or cheated someone. Perhaps she lied frequently or even neglected her duties to her loved ones. She may have done any or all of these things, but that didn't matter now because Jesus had forgiven her of all her sins! They were wiped away. Gone. Why? Jesus explained to Simon: "...her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love." She loved Jesus, and she didn't hesitate to express that love even in the midst of a hostile crowd in someone else's house. She had not even confessed her sins to Jesus, at least not publicly, when He turned to her and said, "Your sins have been forgiven....Your faith has saved you; go in peace." The woman had believed strongly that Jesus could help her, could forgive her, could heal her of the spiritual agony she must have been suffering, and He did.

Those who were watching and listening were shocked. "Who is this who even forgives sins?" they asked. 

Who indeed can forgive sins so easily and so willingly? Jesus. Who waits for His sinful children to reach out to Him in love and repentance? Jesus. Who longs to feel our tears on His feet? Jesus. Who desires us to pour out our ointment of good works and loving deeds upon others and thereby upon Him? Jesus. Who is constantly ready to forgive the sins, even the many great sins, of those who love much? Jesus.

Lord Jesus, we love You. We know our guilt, and we fall at Your feet in tears of love and repentance. Forgive us our sins, Lord, and help us not to sin again. Amen.

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