Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now 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 person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 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 she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7:36-50 (New American Standard Bible)
The dynamic in the gospel passage above is not hard for us to understand- Jesus has been put in situation where he has been set up – clearly, if the Pharisee was interested in being a true host, he would have attended to the details of hospitality that the Lord reminds him he neglected. This makes one think that there was a clear agenda behind the invitation. The woman’s appearance, and the fact that she was known in the city as a “sinner” meant that she was taking an amazing leap of faith. Surely her presence in such a setting would not be long tolerated. Rather than join in the blaming, shaming and labeling, Jesus forgives the woman, crediting her faith as saving her. He extols the risk she took in believing he would forgive her – she took the risk of believing that love is more powerful than sin and hatred.
How about you? What is your story of the power of love to transform, forgive and renew? This is a season when we are invited in a special way to reflect on forgiveness, on the gift and grace of reconciliation. We are fortunate that in our faith tradition, reconciliation, also known as “confession” is a means whereby we can receive God’s grace and forgiveness. God wants all of us , even our sin, pain and the broken parts of our lives. God takes a look at us, each of us, scars and all… He pauses for a moment and says with confidence, “Yep, I can work with that!”