Sep 17 2020 Reflection
Thursday 17 September 2020
First Reading: 1 COR 15:1-11
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
PS 118:1B-2, 16AB-17, 28
Gospel Reading: LK 7:36-50
Today’s Note: Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?”
Simon said in reply,
“The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”
He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little. (Luke 7:47)
The Pharisee in today’s Gospel is a curious seeker after truth. So he invites Jesus to his home to investigate who he really is. As he watches Jesus with this woman, he decides that Jesus must be a fraud. “If this man were a prophet,” he concludes, “he would know . . . that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). But no, Jesus must be blind.
But in fact, this Pharisee is the one who cannot see. He is blind, both to the holiness of his guest and to his own sin—and therefore he “loves little” (Luke 7:47).
We never hear what became of this Pharisee. Did his heart melt when Jesus rebuked him? Were his eyes opened? Did he turn to God in humble repentance? We just don’t know. What we do know is that every day God offers us a moment of grace similar to what he offered to this man.
So how will we respond to the holy presence of Jesus today?
It’s easy to experience the same blindness as this teacher of Israel, a blindness to the holiness of God and to the way our sins offend his holiness. We can think, Jesus understands. It doesn’t matter that I’m only going through the motions of praying. We might turn a blind eye to our sin and conclude, I’m a pretty good person. Jesus accepts me just the way I am. He’s not judging me for yelling at my spouse.
But when we think this way, we become even more blind. Worse, we miss the grace that Jesus offers us—the gift of loving and being loved by the all-holy God. As a result, our love for God can grow cold. But the converse is also true: the more we see the holiness of Jesus and the sin that lives in us, the more we will love Jesus.
This woman saw what nobody else saw: the holiness and worthiness of Jesus. Even more, she allowed his brightness to blaze into the shadows of her heart. Her tears of repentance were her gift of love back to her Lord. And she walked away from dinner made new.
What do you see when you look at Jesus? Open your eyes today.
“Jesus, help me to see how holy you are. Despite my sins, I love you, Lord.”