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The pardon of the sinful woman

Gospel Reading: Lk 7:36–8:3
A 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.”

Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

The Gospel starts with Jesus going to a dinner at a Pharisee’s home. That Jesus accepts the invitation signals that he is open to encounter someone who differs from his approach to God.

Without reporting the usual exchange of pleasantries between host and guest, the evangelist Luke suddenly brings an unexpected character into the scene: a woman, well known in town as a sinner. The intruder right away goes to Jesus, without hesitation or fear, to do her thing. Bringing perfumed oil, she stands weeping behind Jesus at his feet, bathing them with her tears, wiping them with her hair, kissing and anointing them.

The Pharisee keeps his critical distance from Jesus. He convinces himself with his own disbelief, “If this man were a prophet…”

Reading his host’s thoughts, Jesus tells a parable. The parable pictures both of them as sinners, but Jesus acknowledges that the woman has done better. The woman may be a worse sinner than the Pharisee, but she has shown more love for Jesus. The woman sinner expresses her thanksgiving in a very intimate manner for Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

Jesus declares to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven… Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (vv 48, 50). Jesus loves sinners who approach him in faith and devotion. He will readily extend his forgiveness, peace, and salvation.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.