One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)
Sin is misdirected love. Sinning a lot reveals the potential to love greatly if only the direction of that love is ordered again towards God, who is the source, the One who gave the sinner the capacity to love so much. The woman in the story, perhaps a prostitute by trade, was well known for her practice. It is quite likely that those who knew her, including Simon, may have made use of her services.
Simon thought of her but uttered not a word. Jesus however, was reading Simon’s heart and also the woman’s. Jesus was, we would say today, in “perfect knowledge” of the situation. The woman cried inclined on Jesus’ feet. Why? Because her eyes had recognized in Jesus a perfection, a love that no one had ever offered her.
You see, her capacity to love was great. She was ready for a great love story, she had a huge heart that took perhaps great blows from men who did not love her right. In time, she got used to that sad and grave injustice and her love was gradually misdirected to the very sinful disorder that made her infamous about town.
I imagine that Jesus was invited to the house of the Pharisee after preaching in that town. The woman was just one more face in the crowd surrounding the famous new Rabbi. She was perhaps standing there when her eyes caught Jesus’ gaze. That was the trademark of her profession, to catch the eye of her potential client and enter into that exchange that tried to emulate the look of pure love between man and lawful wife. A devilish simulation it was, a dirty make believe trying to mimic the spousal: “I know you love me, please know I desire you,” that in reality said: “I know what you want, and I have it here for a price.” In the mud of human concupiscence such are the imprints of the devil’s hoofs. That exchange is nothing but a dirty mockery of the beautiful dance leading to spousal union. In all the godless simulations of marriage now en vogue one will always find traces of that abomination, the difference among them is only a matter of degree.
But that day, when she found His eyes, those eyes entered deep into her soul and she felt not the animal hunger of an aroused male but a soft caress that made her hear something different: “What have they done to you? What have you done to yourself?” There was no scandal, no shaming, only a kindness of such depth that made her want to be lost in it forever, trusting in it, feeding from it for dear life. In contact with such level of pure love, she felt suddenly saddled with all her past and then she felt the forgiveness coming into her heart like a river of mercy. And then she ran to her home and cried her fill on that bed … that bed.
Later on, when she learned that Jesus was going to be at Simon’s house, she placed herself behind the men, as it was proper for lowly women to do. There she patiently waited until the last man was received, sneaking silently into the house and moving towards the place where Jesus was. That was the beginning of her following Jesus. From that moment on, she would never be too far from Him.
On the day of St. Januarius
I know that I will not be on the subject of your article.
I just want to say that, as I commented in your last post, the situation is very tense in the world and now we are hearing rumors of war.
I can’t help but think about how prophetic was Father Scanlon’s article that you reproduced on your blog:
We have to pray the Rosary with greater fervor.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I prayed the Rosary before Our Lady of Mount Carmel and I spent some time before the Blessed Sacrament also. Most days I attend Mass twice to pray for he intentions of all my readers and benefactors. That seems to have a salutary effect on my writing. God has moved me near some individuals that need encouragement to come clean before the Lord. I also keep an eye on the dangerous times we seem to be living on. We must pray and trust our daily endeavors to the Lord. He knows the time and the hour, we know we have to worship Him and obey His commandments. Thank you for your encouragement!
LikeLiked by 2 people
Count me among the people that you have helped and encouraged.
It has been a blessing to find your blog.
I will quote this from your article: “What have they done to you? What have you done to yourself?”
And some people want to legalize prostitution, something contrary to the real aspirations of men and women. Those people are ok with other people doing that because it won’t be themselves having to do this “job”. Strange way to love your neighbor as yourself,
LikeLiked by 1 person
SOMEONE COMMENTS (FACEBOOK)
“It is quite likely that those who knew her, including Simon, may have made use of her services.” This is such an unfair jump to a conclusion. How wrong! in your commentary.
Did you ever ask yourself why she was not invited to leave? Simon could have easily summoned a servant to have that embarrassing woman to be taken away from the banquet. But he did not. No one did. They knew what could happen.
St. Luke calls attention to the fact that Jesus is reading the mind of the Pharisee and letting him know ever so gently.
When reading Scripture we can just scan over and be content with little, or we can mine the scene presented to us. The human landscape of the Gospel is rich in useful lessons for those who stop to meditate “entering” into the action or contemplating the signs presented in the scene.
That is the way the Early Fathers of the Church read the Gospel. It pays off to imitate their method.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It seems I may be or may have been confused by, or confusing, some Gospel passages.
For instance, is this Simon the same as Simon who became Peter? Or is this a different one, known as Simon the Pharisee? Or does the Pharisee have a different name, but Simon Peter is there and has a major social influence in that house?
And is this woman sinner whom Jesus forgives Mary Magdalene, and did they ever meet before (the woman taken in adultery about to be stoned in the street), or is this a completely different woman, and/or if she’s the same woman, maybe my timing on when each story took place is off?
Because in the past, I would have said that the woman was not asked to leave the banquet because Simon Peter recognized Mary Magdalen as someone whom Jesus had befriended (having saved her life so dramatically in public), so for that reason she was permitted to “tag along” and follow Jesus.
Also, I can be very literal and miss the point of indirect social nuances, so I would have interpreted the repentant woman sinner on the one hand, the man or men embarrassed at seeing the woman making an unusual public scene at their party event which they had wanted to go smoothly, and then on top of that, Jesus justifiably calling out the host on his poor social behavior and treatment of Jesus as a guest, as in failing to wash Jesus’ feet (remembering having read as I do the story to come later on about Jesus washing the apostles’ feet).
I also would have figured that the woman was allowed to stay because anyone hanging around Jesus during His time of ministry and preaching would have known that he hung out with the poor and downtrodden, and so the host would not have dared kick someone out and risk being seen as uncharitable towards someone whom Jesus was allowing into His presence.
So yeah, someone like me would not have been able to piece together on my own that this Simon had perhaps sinned together with the woman washing the feet of Jesus with her hair, tears, and perfume.
Not sure if I would have picked that up or understood on my own simply by meditating on it longer …
LikeLiked by 1 person
There is some controversy among scholars about the identity of this woman. She may have been Mary Magdalene, I would not dare to affirm or deny that. What is important is to take the passage as it is presented to us. Important elements on this passage, IMHO:
– Jesus reads the hearts
– Simon the Pharisee (who is not Peter) honors Jesus with a banquet but not with his trust. He is unsure if Jesus is from God or not.
– Jesus asks Simon a question, a riddle of sorts but easy enough to understand. Simon should have known the answer from studying the Torah: “The LORD, the LORD God, is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion and faithfulness …” Exodus 34:6 but Simon knows that Jesus is reading his thoughts thus proving to be a great and divine prophet.
– The sin of the woman — according to the Pharisee way of thinking — was higher than the individual sin of her “clients” because she was performing that sinful act every time while the others were using her services occasionally therefore their sinful portion was smaller. Talk about twisted self-justification. Jesus caught that concept and turned it around: God loves the woman more because she sinned more. More candles are needed to light a darker room.
– The woman turns her lifestyle around, she repents. The perfumed ointment she lavishes on Jesus was destined to herself, to refresh the tool of her trade: her flesh. It helped her also to feel clean although she knew she was rotting physically and spiritually. But now she pours it on Jesus’ feet as a blessing. She may have instinctively known that He was going to die for her, that those feet were walking the way of the Cross.
– Simon knew the woman. I think the Gospel writer is telling us that obliquely because most likely Simon converted later on and was known to others in the Church. My guess.
Looking at the scene from above: Simon represents those who approach the Eucharist with doubts. The woman represents those who see the Eucharist as a precious treasure and are transformed by the Holy Sacrament producing fruits of repentance. Those are the ones that fully realize that our sins have crucified the Lord and want to show as much gratefulness as possible for his infinite sacrifice.
This is a rich passage of Scripture, fraught with meaning, and it could easily take a volume or many volumes to extract all the wisdom it contains.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Comments are closed.