Of Love and Forgiveness

Luke 7: 36-50
1 Tim 4: 12-16 / Psa 111

…her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.
(Luke 7: 47)

Our sins are debts we cannot pay
Until we learn how to forgive;
His Word today shows us the way..
God’s love we’ve received we must give.

One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to dinner, so He went to his house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man is a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke to Simon, ”I have some-thing to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7: 36-50)

Reflection

Reading through this dramatic episode of St. Luke’s Gospel, we can observe once again the stark contrasts between the sinner and the self-righteous, and obviously where our Lord’s favor rested. Simon, a prominent Pharisee, hosted a banquet in his home. A woman of ill refute dared to intrude into the dinner uninvited. Rather than object to the intrusion, the Pharisee’s main preoccupation was how Jesus would react to this sinner “fussing” over Him. Simon’s thoughts revealed his judgmental attitude: “IF this man is a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of a woman she is — that she is a sinner.” He had made a judgment on the wisdom of Jesus, and on the morality of the woman. The woman, on the other hand, had no such misgivings about Jesus. She braved the gathering’s scorn and rejection to show her love for the Master, full of faith in His forgiveness. While Simon’s eyebrows were raised in cynicism, the woman was down on her knees in all humility, kissing the feet of Jesus, and shedding tears of penitence.

It was her great sense of gratitude, manifested in her tears shed and kisses given that endeared her to Jesus. In the case of Simon the Pharisee, none were offered or given, not even a basin of water to wash Jesus’ feet, or even a kiss to show that He was welcomed. Those who are self-righteous believe that they have no sins to ask forgiveness for, and are therefore lacking in gratitude. As a consequence, they are unable to express genuine love to God. So let us praise and thank God every moment of our lives, for He has forgiven us all our sins to the point of sacrificing His only Son in Calvary.

Dear God, You have revealed to us in today’s Gospel the importance of seeking Your forgiveness and being grateful for our salvation. These we acknowledge in the teachings of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose example we desire to follow. Amen.

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