In today’s gospel message, we read of the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, dried them with her long hair, kissed them and anointed them with oil. Was this action of the woman in atonement for her sins, a kind of penance to make up for her sins? No. As we read more we learn that she has already been forgiven; this was an action of extravagant love.
This woman’s love for Jesus is so deep it has brought tears to her eyes. We may have experienced times when tears formed in our eyes, not in sorrow but in love or joy. But, her tears of love were so copious she could wash Jesus’ feet with them. Do we have that kind of love for Jesus that permeates our being?
She loves Jesus so much she is oblivious of all else. When she lets her long hair down to dry his feet, she has violated the custom of the day for women to keep their hair bound up while in public. Do we love our Lord enough to ignore the customs of our time? Are we willing to take a stand on issues when others might disagree and ridicule us? Are we willing to let our love for Jesus be visible in all that we do?
Her love is so great she anoints his feet with oil from an alabaster jar demonstrating again the depth or her reverence and love for Jesus. Are we willing to sacrifice our treasures, whatever they are, to express our love of Jesus? Do we give of our time and talents out of love for others and in so doing express our love for Jesus?
As we read on, we hear of Jesus’ host who is thinking that Jesus must not be a prophet if he does not know the woman is a sinner. The implication is that Jesus surely would not allow a sinner to touch him, let alone shower him with the tears of her love. The host is self-righteous in his judgment. How often do we massage our own egos when we read about the “sins” of others in the news or pass the drunken panhandler on the street? Or, how often do we wear our “works of mercy” like a badge of self-righteous honor by letting others know what we have done?
Jesus rebukes his host for not giving him water to wash his feet, a kiss of greeting, or ointment for his head. The host’s hospitality does not measure up to the expectations for that time in history. How often are we inhospitable to Jesus? How often do we fail even to acknowledge his presence?
The best part of this reading is that just as the woman’s sins were forgiven so are ours. Jesus patiently waits for us to recognize his presence and offer him our hospitality. We can shed tears of joy and gratitude for the love and mercy that are freely and eternally offered to us. Let us ask Jesus to increase our awareness of his presence as in the words of Mother Teresa:
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