Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Timothy 4:12-16; Luke 7:36-50)
We may think of Jesus as unfriendly toward all Pharisees, but this is not the case. True, he chastises a few, but then he eats with others. He has a lot in common with Pharisees. Like them Jesus is a layman and learned in the Law. Also like the Pharisees, Jesus teaches in synagogues and exerts effort to live righteously. Nothing should seem peculiar, therefore, in Jesus’ entering a Pharisee’s home in the gospel today.
Simon, the Pharisee, becomes scandalized with Jesus. He sees our Lord allowing a notoriously sinful woman to bathe and anoint his feet. As if that were not enough, Jesus also lets her kiss them. Although he does not say it, Simon thinks that Jesus cannot be a prophet. If he were, Simon figures, Jesus would look into the woman’s heart and see that she is not worthy. But Jesus proves himself a prophet with Simon’s criterion. He knows the woman’s heart to be repentant and thus receptive of God’s grace. Likewise, he reads the cynicism of Simon’s heart that criticizes too much and loves too little.
Jesus demonstrates God’s mercy as he forgives the woman her sins and enlightens Simon of his. Mercy at times requires fraternal correction as Jesus calls Simon to task for cynicism. It also allows a humble person to express love in her own way even if it means embarrassment. We should pray that Jesus will treat us as graciously as he does these two sinners. As church-goers, we are susceptible to cynicism, which is finding faults in others. When we criticize others harshly, may Christ remind us of our sin. May he also offer us opportunities to show our love for him.