“And one of the Pharisees desired him to eat with him. And he went into the house of the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the Pharisee’ s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet, with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. And the Pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner. And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it. A certain creditor had two debtors, the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most? Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she with tears hath washed my feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. Thou gavest me no kiss; but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but she with ointment hath anointed my feet. Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. And he said to her: Thy sins are forgiven thee. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.” (Luke 7, Douay-Rheims)
This is one of my favourite parts of the Gospels. It is so beautiful. I wonder how this woman felt.. was she afraid to come uninvited like this, to boldly kiss Our Lord’s feet and pour the perfume on them? She must have realized that others knew about her life, and that she might not be welcomed… but love overcame any fear. She came to Jesus with such gratitude and perhaps forgot everything else. She had believed in Him.. even though she lived a sinful life, she reached out to Jesus, not only to ask for forgiveness, but to show Him her love.
At times, I come to Jesus, so unworthy and sinful, and – how can anything we give be enough? But Jesus in His great Mercy accepts it. Even if our love is only so small. If we have an intention to love Him, He receives this intention. St Gertrude wished to suffer for Jesus till the end of the world: and even though this did not happen, He told her that He accepted her intention as if it had happened. How many treasures are there in our good intentions!
The story of the “sinful woman with the perfume jar” is one of the most moving stories I have ever read. I sometimes imagine how it happened, and how this woman felt, and how it must have been for her when her worship was accepted by Jesus. Though she had lived a sinful life, I imagine Jesus looking at her so kindly, because she was repentant and loved Him so sincerely.
Our Lord is so gentle and compassionate, and this story can give courage to sinful souls to approach Him with confidence, and not be afraid to ask for forgiveness and open up to His love. Maybe sometimes, people don’t repent because they are despairing, or maybe afraid of facing their sins? Jesus longs to forgive them; He stands with arms outstretched, calling them to His embrace.
(image credit: http://holycardheaven.blogspot.ca/