Scripture: Lectionary 446: Thurs. Sept.20. I Cor. 15:1-11, Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,28. Luke 7:36-50:
Paul’s primary ministry is to preach the Gospel. In doing so he has become conformed to Christ and is able to reach the Gentiles with the Good News about Jesus’ life, suffering, and death. He treats of the Resurrection in a persuasive and unique way. He shares with us how he came to believe and how though not called directly by Jesus as the other apostles were, he is nonetheless an apostle by the grace of God.
We see that he has received the essentials of the Gospel in what was handed down to him by the apostles and probably by James the leader of the Church in Jerusalem. What we hear him telling us reminds us of our creeds that are used at Mass: “I handed on to you first of all what I myself received,that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried and, in accordance with the Scriptures, rose on the third day; that he was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve. Next he was seen by James.” Our own belief has developed within us through what Paul has handed down and we have been saved through the death of Jesus on the Cross and his Resurrection. We share the same Gospel as the early Christians received from the Twelve and from Paul.
In turning to our Gospel for today we learn much about the gift of hospitality—the greatest of virtues in the Old Testament. Jesus himself becomes the lightening rod for this scene by speaking with Simeon who offered him none of the expected and customary signs of hospitality. The unnamed woman, on the other hand, offers more than a guest would expect. He has been received and sought for by this woman who washes his feet, dries them with her hair, and anoints them with precious oil, and kisses them! Simeon notes all this but makes a negative remark about her and also Jesus whom he thinks should have known that this was a sinful woman. His behavior is one of omission and then of commission in judging the actions of the woman. She is focused on the guest Jesus and is not at all concerned about what is said about her. It is all about Jesus. She omits nothing and commits no sin once she is here in the presence of Jesus and continues to love him as she does on this occasion realizing that all has been forgiven because she has loved much. Jesus corrects Simeon and helps him come to his senses by use of a parable that has a lesson that cannot be missed. We do not know her name but we certainly know how she loved Jesus and how she is now perpetually remembered by the reading of this episode in Luke. This event involves forgiveness, love, hospitality, and renewal. It is an excellent passage for a celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.