Reflection for Sunday – June 12, 2016
Preacher: Rose Marie Lombard
This Gospel story, found only in Luke, is a perfect example of what we Christians have come to know—that the world’s message, the world’s ways, are often the direct opposite of God’s message, and God’s kingdom. This is a story of contrasts. One contrast is the Pharisee, a respectable man of religion, who invited many people to dinner, including Jesus, contrasted by a disrespectable woman, who unexpectedly appears and is a known sinner.
Another contrast is this: the Pharisee, who we learn is named Simon, was not very hospitable toward Jesus, contrasted with the “disrespectable woman,” who showed much hospitality. Jesus seemingly read Simon’s mind, knew that Simon disapproved of what the woman was doing. Then Jesus proceeds to tell him the story of the two debtors. One owed a large amount, the other a smaller amount. “Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both”, said Jesus and then he asked Simon which debtor will love the creditor more. And Simon answered correctly—the one whose larger debt was forgiven.
Then Jesus tried to connect the dots, as it were, for Simon and for us. That is, to see that the connection between the creditor and debtors is the same as the connection between Jesus and Simon and that his relationship to the sinful woman is like his relationship with us too.
Jesus explained it to Simon in these words: “When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, you did not give me a kiss, you did not anoint my head with oil.”
In contrast we learn that the sinful woman, who it seems, was eager to meet Jesus, burst in uninvited. She stood behind him at his feet weeping, and as Jesus said to Simon she “bathed them with her tears, wiped them with her hair and kissed them.” Then Jesus said, “she anointed my feet with ointment.” So we see the striking differences these two people exhibit in their encounter with Jesus: Simon, the Pharisee is distant, not even touching Jesus in any way; the sinful woman, on the other hand, touches Jesus, has a close, intimate encounter with him.
So what is the message for me and for you in this Gospel today? How do we answer the question, “So what?”
Will I be any different in my relationship with Jesus after reflecting on the Gospel? Who do I identify with in this story? What is Jesus calling me to when I reflect on his message of forgiveness? Do I really believe that Jesus forgives me, a sinner? Do I really believe that Jesus, just as he did not pull away for the sinful woman but showed compassion and total acceptance, will never pull away from me but rather always show great compassion? You and I are called to answer the “so what” by the way we respond to His call to grow in relationship with Him.
Once again, in Jesus, we see the unconditional love that God, who created you and me in His image and likeness, has for each of us. The Good News is that Jesus loves and forgives us today, just as he lovingly forgave the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and kissed them.