Many people who operate under the misimpression that we need to mend our bad ways in order for God to want to be with us. So they feel the need to try to “be good” so that God will love them.
Today’s Gospel from St. Luke highlights the error of that way of thinking. It reminds us of the important fact that God loves us first and always. That we need do nothing to earn God’s love. That God does not love us because we do something to earn that love. Rather, it is God’s love that allows us to respond in love and gratitude.
The Gospel tells of the sinful woman who comes while Jesus is eating supper in the house of the Pharisee. She bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipes them with her heair, isses them and anoints them with fine ointment.
The Pharisee is outraged that Jesus allows her to touch him. Jesus tells him a story: “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?”
The Pharisee gives the obvious answer – the one with the larger debt.
Jesus then contrasts the behavior of the Pharisee (who neither washed Jesus’ feet nor kissed him nor anointed him) with that of the woman and says, “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.” Her sins have been forgiven. Hence, she shows great love.
First God invites – God loves…and through that we are able to respond in love.