One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing 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 kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.”
“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus 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 bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing 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 were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the 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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little,” Jesus tells his host Simon the Pharisee in today’s Gospel. By contrast, because “her many sins have been forgiven,” the repentant woman at Jesus’ feet “has shown great love” (Luke 7:47). Jesus directs Simon’s attention not only to the woman in his house, but also to two debtors, one of whom owes much more than the other. Simon admits that, should their creditor forgive both debts, the one who owed more will have greater love for the creditor.
Each of us might consider today all of the sins we have committed up to the present moment. We need not make an inventory of every one-we would need more than today to do that! Simply allow the realization to sink in that I have failed to love God and neighbor so many, many times over the course of my life. I have wounded God and others in serious and less serious ways, in my thoughts, words, and deeds as well as by neglecting to do what I ought. Taken together, and without God’s offer of healing and forgiveness, my many sins would justify my eternal separation from God.
But now consider how the Lord has forgiven each and every sin of my life, has drowned them all in the ocean of His compassionate love, simply because I asked in all sincerity that He do so. Consider, further, how God actually makes use of my sins to draw close to me as my Savior, as well as to increase my gratitude, humility and love. In a strange paradox only God can accomplish, my sins lead to deeper intimacy with God and bear spiritual fruit in my own soul! Moved by the awareness that “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom. 5:20), what might I say to God from my heart today?
—Fr. Rob Kroll, S.J.
Lord, sometimes feelings of guilt can cause us to feel distant from you. We feel unworthy of your love and hesitate to ask for your forgiveness. Yet these are the very moments when you invite us into your love. Your forgiveness is immediate when we admit our wrong doing and pledge to avoid such behavior. Lord, you welcome us back with arms outstretched.
Sometimes, Lord, we may find ourselves deeply hurt by another. To forgive seems impossible. We ask, Lord, that you enlighten our hearts and minds so in time we understand what it means to forgive, and we can release ourselves and others from a bitterness that depletes our joy.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
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