24th Week in Ord. Time, Thursday – 16th September 2021 — Gospel: Lk 7,36-50
Benevolent and Gracious Guest
Jesus is invited to the home of Simon, a Pharisee. It seems that the Pharisee is more interested in impressing others by having Jesus as his guest than in seeking to have a relationship with Jesus. Simon fails to perform the usual gestures of hospitality or basic courtesy of a host: welcoming his guest with a kiss, washing the feet of the guest, and anointing the guest with oil. In contrast, as Jesus pointed out, this “sinful woman” was more of a host than the host himself. She lavishly treats Jesus in a way which is above and beyond mere hospitality. The Pharisee, self-righteous as he is, is horrified that Jesus would let such a public sinner touch him. Jesus remarks that love flows from the realization of God’s mercy that motivates individuals to greater love because they realize that they have been touched by God. The woman has experienced the forgiveness which Jesus makes available to all sinners. She is able to gratefully express her love toward Jesus.
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. In seeking personal answer from the tale of two debtors, Jesus acknowledges the need to be grateful. Jesus gave Simon a chance to reflect on and repent of his cold, judgmental attitudes. Jesus was indeed the most gracious of guests, who teaches gently the benevolence of mercy, in spite of his host’s rudeness and condescension.