Reflections on the Readings
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time-June 13, 2010 Year C
Season of Pentecost
By Dennis Hankins
In the Presence of Love
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, you gave me no kiss, you did not anoint my head with oil." - Jesus
The woman Jesus refers to washed his feet with her tears and wiped his feet dry with her hair. Kissing his feet without ceasing, she also massaged his feet with the oil from the alabaster box she brought with her.
As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" (Romans 10:15)
A new life in Christ! This 'woman of the city,' perhaps a sinner of the street walker type, is captured by a love she's never known. So transformed she cannot help but heap her gratitude upon her new love in an uninhibited way. With her new 'self' she senses a completion she has never known. She rightly identifies her new life with Jesus, her faith resting in Jesus as the very Son of God.
This scene is a picture of one who comes to Jesus and truly finds 'rest for her soul.' It is a deeply touching and moving moment, one that focuses our attention on the actions of a grateful woman. This is a woman who for the first time in her life experiences a love that covers a multitude of sins.
Jesus draws the analogy with Simon about two debtors who owed a certain creditor five hundred days' wages and fifty days' wages respectively. Because neither one could repay his debt, the creditor forgave each man his debt.
Then Jesus asks his host, "Which of them will love him more?" Simon responds, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
This is where I started this reflection. It is now that Jesus points out to Simon how little he has regarded his presence compared to 'this woman.' Then Jesus says, "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."
What I get from Jesus' words is this: Forgiveness is forgiveness; how grateful we are depends on how we view its necessity and its effect in our hearts. Who are we most like in this Gospel concerning Simon the Pharisee and a sinful woman of the night? Do we treat the presence of Jesus and his forgiveness in our lives as something extraordinary and precious? When we receive his body and blood in the Eucharist, is it the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, or just something we Catholics do?
The woman caressing the feet of Jesus shows us the way we can fall in love with our Lord. Falling in love with Jesus is deeply personal, heartfelt, and life giving. Some today are lukewarm when it comes to this matter. For these folks, Church is a ritual to complete, to get over with and then get on out the door. In the presence of Jesus, are we more like Simon the Pharisee or the sinful woman?
The nameless woman in today's Gospel tells me all of us need to take time to linger in the presence of Jesus, the Son of the Father's love. What he has given us through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven is worthy of our deepest worship.
I believe that in East Tennessee, the Holy Spirit is calling us to a renewal of our first love for Jesus. For others it could be a call to experience for the first time a deep and personal love for Jesus. Whether coming back or coming for the first time, now is the time for you and me to join this sinful woman of the city at the feet of Jesus whose love is immeasurable, whose peace surpasses all understanding, and whose forgiveness creates in us clean hearts and brings us the joy of our salvation.