Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 7, 36-50

One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee's house and took his place at table,

suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment.

She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of person it is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.'

Then Jesus took him up and said, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' He replied, 'Say on, Master.'

'There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty.

They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?'

Simon answered, 'The one who was let off more, I suppose.' Jesus said, 'You are right.'

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair.

You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in.

You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.'

Then he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'

Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, 'Who is this man, that even forgives sins?'

But he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

While Jesus is at table--invited by Simon the Pharisee--a prostitute comes close to him. She lies down next to him and anoints his feet with perfume while crying. The scene is undoubtedly unique, in all aspects. And one can understand well the reaction of those present, given the customs of the time. Women were completely unrecognized. They could not speak in the synagogue or participate in public life and they could not give testimony at trials. Throughout the Old Testament various reactions to this attitude are recorded, as we see in the stories of Judith, Esther, Ruth, Noemi, Susanna and others. But the bias against women was also very prevalent in Jesus’ time. One can understand therefore the huffy attitude of those present when faced with Jesus’ welcoming of the woman, who was also a sinner. The reaction of annoyance toward this woman, which upsets the meal, is also a severe judgment toward Jesus who does not realize who the woman is and lets her continue in her action anyhow. In the least Jesus appears as a naïve person who does not understand the reality of life. He is a dreamer who is outside of the world and its ordinary customs. In reality, it was they, those present, who did not understand the love of that woman, her desire to be forgiven, and the love of Jesus. Going against the mentality of the day, Jesus—who reads the secrets of hearts—understood the love of that woman. He welcomed and forgave her. We could say that Jesus really goes against the grain here. And he teaches his disciples to do the same. To make them understand his feelings he recounts the short parable of the two debtors: one who had to pay 500 denarii and the other, 50. Neither one of them could pay the debt. And both of them are pardoned regardless. Jesus then asks Simon the Pharisee, which of the two loves the master more. The parable supposes that the two, both the Pharisee and the sinful woman, have received some favour from Jesus. The Pharisee responds by inviting him home. The sinful woman gets closer and wets his feet with tears and spreads perfume on them. Jesus feels tenderness for her and says: “she has not stopped kissing my feet.” The woman’s awareness of her sin corresponded to the need that she had to be forgiven. Jesus invites us to not be blind thinking we are always right or not very sinful. Just the opposite he calls us to open our eyes to our sin and to feel, like that sinful woman, the need to be forgiven. Yes, we too need to hear: “Your sins are forgiven you.” And we will understand even more the words that Jesus says on that occasion, “Her many sins were forgiven, for she has loved much.” Love, in fact, erases sins and changes our lives.