“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 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, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Comment: In yesterday’s passage Jesus told Simon, the Pharisee, that he had something to say to him, probably in response to his, Simon’s, attitude towards this woman, whom he, Simon, considered a sinner.
Two people are forgiven debts, one a large amount the other ten times smaller. ‘Which of them will be the more thankful?’, Jesus asks. Everyone would have given the answer which Simon did. The example is pretty pointed and surely Simon saw himself and the woman as the two people in the example. No doubt Simon considered that if he owed a debt to God it was much smaller than the one this sinner-woman owed. Simon’s failure to even carry out the usual customs of foot washing and the woman’s extreme show of love is highlighted and the lesson is made to flash in colour before Simon when Jesus says to her ‘your sins are forgiven. Go in peace, you are saved!’
But is the main lesson which Jesus is trying to teach Simon and all listening this? ‘If I can forgive sins, then who does this mean that I am?’
As a man, Jesus must have been warmed ‘to the cockles of his heart’ by this woman’s show of gratitude! And that shown in the midst of a hostile setting.
Prayer: Help me to see in what I need to be forgiven and for what I need to be truly thankful.