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A well known sinner enters the dining room, a dining room for men only.  The woman heads straight for Jesus and caresses his feet.  Kissing them, bathing them with tears and perfuming them with ointment, wiping them with her hair.  Quite a scene.  But, Jesus doesn't seem embarrassed in the least.

Simon is noticing that she has touched Jesus = unclean.  Simon abstracts from the vivid details of the scene by putting this woman in a social and religious category = she is a sinner. He judges the book by its cover.  And this touching also makes Simon suspect that Jesus is no prophet, if he were prophet he would flee from this sinner.  All of this is happening in Simon's mind where we all like to judge and categorize the people we look down on.  But Jesus is able to eavesdrop on Simon's heart. And now Jesus, the prophet, speaks to this heart.

Jesus tells a parable, and as Jesus often does, Simon is part of the story and will be given the key to a deeper understanding of the woman's behavior.  To really enter into the story you have to have been in debt either to the bank, or to a friend or to the credit card company.  There are doable debts and undoable debts.  When you get from under a doable debt you feel relieved.  When you are forgiven an undoable debt you are moved to love.  Five dollars versus five million dollars, both forgiven which makes you feel more gratitude?  "I suppose" Simon says meaning he himself has never felt like he was in great debt to anyone.

And then Jesus' second question, "Do you see this woman?"  But Simon does not see her or why she is carrying on this way.  And Jesus says "you did see me either".  You did not offer to me the customary hospitality that a guest should receive in your home.  Simon, you have sinned against me and yet you judge this woman. Jesus says when a person experiences God's forgiving love in the center of ones being you do extravagant things out of love. (Being in love makes you do strange things).  It makes you wonder if this woman kissing his feet has also been sitting at the feet of Jesus absorbing his words and the love they engender.  This is what it means to be a disciple – to sit at the feet of the master.

Jesus uncovers the source of the woman's love; the burden of her sins has been lifted.  Jesus is not forgiving her sins, those have already been forgiven and the woman knows that it was in this wandering Rabbi that she learned of God's forgiving love.  You Pharisees forgiveness is never earned, it is the gift of grace.

"Go, your faith has saved you".  And where do we go when we leave this church?  Do we go and judge our brothers and sisters by the covers on their books, or do we know that we too have received divine forgiveness and must off the same to everyone?

A poem:  "I dreamed death came the other night, and Heaven's gate swung wide.  With kindly grace an angel ushered me inside; and there to my astonishment stood folks I'd known on earth; and some I'd judged and labeled unfit, of little worth.  Indignant words rose to my lips, but never were set free; for every face showed stunned surprise.  Not one expected me!"

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Monsignor Fred Nijem

Father Kevin O'Keefe
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Jim Hunt

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