Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Timothy 4:12-16; Luke 7:36-50)
There is a story about two monks – one old and one young walking on a road. At a riverbank a beautiful woman comes along. She asks the monks to carry her across the river. The old monk takes her into his arms, wades through the water to the other side, and lets her down. The younger monk follows behind. When the monks are alone again, the younger monk addresses the older unapprovingly, “How could you hold that beautiful woman in your arms and not commit the sin of lust.” The elder monk replied, “Son, I took her in my arms on one side of the river and let her go on the other. But you have held her in your thoughts all this while.” One may have a similar question of Jesus in today’s gospel.
The passage calls the woman who weeps on Jesus’ feet, wipes them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them with oil “sinful.” It is not said that she is a prostitute although she is obviously a sensuous person. Jesus, however, appears unaroused. At least it can be said that he did not react to the woman’s caresses by either embracing or rejecting her. Rather he calmly makes the point to his host that she was in need of forgiveness and found it in Jesus. Steeped in virtue, Jesus knows that the woman’s affection was not directed at him at all but to God.
We all need such self-control and understanding. We may think that the solicitations on Yahoo advertisements are meant for us as individuals. Of course, they are a ploy to get our money. Even when a person shows affection, often enough it is misdirected. If one gets entangled in a relationship under such a condition, he or she will regret it. We will find true peace if we can put aside lustful thoughts to view the other as a child of God like us standing in the need of grace.