Like Simon or the Sinful Woman?

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus is dining at the home of Simon, a Pharisee, when a “sinful woman, ” who has learned of Jesus’ presence there, “stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.”

Simon is aghast that Jesus is allowing this, assuming Jesus does not recognize the “sort of woman…who is touching him.” Jesus, of course, knows exactly who the woman is and what she has done, and he chides Simon, saying:

Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven
because she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.

The Simon’s of this world think they have it all. They live lives that (in their eyes) are blameless; they don’t feel they owe anyone anything and they do not believe they need anything (certainly not forgiveness, since, after all, they live such blameless lives).

The woman know her failings, her weaknesses. And she knows she is in need for forgiveness. She comes in her weakness and offers what she has in humility.

For us the question for reflection is, are there times when we behave like Simon? How do we approach Jesus?

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2 thoughts on “Like Simon or the Sinful Woman?

  1. Is Jesus’ message so stern? If Simon was so ‘full of himself’ would he have invited Jesus to dine at his home in the first place?

    In our lives, how often have we visibly, or silently, proclaimed we ‘have it all’ and are ‘blameless’ – or that we ‘don’t . . owe anyone anything’ – or that we ‘do not . . . need anything (certainly not forgiveness. . .)’? How many times?

    Can we count on more than one hand the people we ‘call by name’ that can be described as this posting suggests?

    Why are messages of love, mercy and forgiveness so frequently delivered in word and tone that ‘divides’ instead of ‘gathers’?

    My god, Simon was the host – could he have been a better one? Are we not all called to be ‘more than we are today’ – tomorrow? Who among us has ever been the ‘perfect’ host?

    Jesus’ message could be interpreted to say we can all do ‘more’ – not, ‘I’m aghast. Begone from me!’ Words spoken seldom allow provision for an interpetive ‘back story’. . .

    Truth gently told is listened to first and taken to heart sooner. . .

  2. One of my favorite Gospel stories. We are known in our poverty, our weakness…we are loved profoundly, in spite of that.

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