A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she 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. 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 woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “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?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “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; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”( Luke 7:36-50)
In today’s scripture, Jesus showered an abundance of grace on both the sinful woman and the graceless host. Instead of condemning the woman, he told her that her faith had saved her and that she could go in peace.
Instead of condemning Simon for his faults, Jesus answered his unspoken criticism with a question. When Jesus told the tale of two debtors, forgiven for two very different-sized debts, he asked which debtor would be the most grateful. Simon’s response showed that he clearly understood Jesus’s meaning. Jesus had given Simon a chance to reflect on and repent of his cold, judgmental attitudes.
In truth, we all need to reflect on our sinfulness because it is only recognizing our sin that we come to realize how much the love of Jesus and his unfailing forgiveness means in our life.
But too often we hold on to our own darkness.
Perhaps we have been hurt. Someone has treated us poorly or betrayed us, and we cannot bring ourselves to forgive that person. Every time we think of him or her, our stomach churns and our anger rises. We know that holding on to that hurt will lessen our lives. Yet we do not let it go. We choose anger and hurt over freedom.
We all have areas of darkness. Yet we keep clinging to what hurts us. The path to our loving and forgiving Gpd is to leave the darkness, not by focusing on the darkness but by focusing on a truth. The truth on which we focus depends upon the darkness in which we find ourselves.
If we are unable to forgive, the truth on which we should focus is our own imperfection. Have others hurt us? Yes. Was that wrong? Certainly. But, we ourselves are not perfect. We ourselves have hurt others, and we ourselves must depend upon their forgiveness and God’s forgiveness. When we can claim the truth of our own imperfection and our dependence upon the forgiveness of others, it can free us to forgive and to leave the darkness behind.
When we accept the truth of our own imperfection, we can forgive. When we accept the truth of our own value, we can leave destructive relationships behind. When we accept the truth of how blessed we are, we can come to find joy in our lives. Now of course, it is not always easy to face the truth and enter the light. But is well worth the effort. If we do not choose to enter the light, our only other option is to remain in the darkness.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me. Fill my heart with love and gratitude for the mercy you have shown to me and give me joy and freedom to love and serve others with kindness and respect.”
The stark contrast of attitudes between Simon and the woman of ill-repute demonstrates how we can either accept or reject God’s mercy and forgiveness. Simon, who regarded himself as an upright Pharisee, did not feel any particular need for pardon and mercy. His self-sufficiency kept him from acknowledging his need for God’s grace – his gracious gift of favor, help, and mercy. Are you grateful for God’s mercy and pardon?