In today’s Gospel we find Jesus under great pressure in Simon’s house. He is under pressure from the intrusion of the woman of ill repute. I believe it is a wonderful reflection on the life of Jesus to study his reactions.
Luke sets the scene. Jesus is invited to a meal. It becomes clear in the story that this is no ordinary invitation. There are other Pharisees at the table. There is tension in the scene. The Head Pharisee (Simon) is quite curt in his greeting and he has an agenda. I have never had to eat a meal under these circumstances, but I can easily imagine what it could do to my metabolism. Ulcers would be likely!! Jesus is in trouble. He will be asked to account for his actions. (Maybe healing on the Sabbath).
Into this scene comes a woman who had a bad name in the town!! With perfume and tears she kisses his feet and anoints them! What confusion! How would you have reacted? How did Simon react? How did Jesus react?
Simon’s reaction was blunt. “If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him and what a bad name she has”.
Jesus reaction is quick to the woman’s defense. Jesus took Simon up and said: “Simon, I have something to say to you”. Jesus tells the parable of the Creditors and the two men. Simon agrees with Jesus about the one who was pardoned more. Then Jesus gives Simon one of the greatest dressings downs in history. It is worth a study!
“Simon, you see this woman? I came into your house and you poured no water for my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss…You did not anoint me with oil….but she has anointed my feet with ointment”. Jesus sees all of her actions as positive signs of repentance that must lead to forgiveness. “Her many sins must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love”.
What a put down for the Pharisee! The dinner guests join in. “Who is this man, that he even forgives sins”.
The reply of Jesus rings in our ears. But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”.
Simply put, Simon and his mates have set up Jesus for a confrontation. An intruder turns up and spoils their agenda. Jesus affirms the intruder and admonishes the dinner guests. I often wonder what I might have done in the same circumstances and how I would have reacted. No doubt I would have thought more of my reputation!