Jesus and the sinner (Lk 7, 36-51)

Publish date 29-07-2023

by Anna Maria Del Prete

Today we are with Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, with him we enter the house of a Pharisee, Simon, who invited him to lunch. Like all the Pharisees, he considers himself among the "righteous" of Israel because he observes the Law and keeps away from all impurities. He distinguishes himself from the others who, on the other hand, he considers sinners and impure and with whom he refuses any contact. Jesus accepted the invitation, despite the fact that the Law forbids associating with Pharisees and sinners.
He came "for sinners" to whom he wants to reveal the love of the Father, without which their obedience to the Law is meaningless. He often shares their food so much as to be defined as a "glutton and drunkard, friend of tax collectors and Pharisees"

Lunch takes place according to the rituals, when suddenly a woman enters, a sinner.
It is not clear how she entered, but with nonchalance, carrying a vase of precious perfume, she goes towards Jesus, places herself at his feet and, weeping, bathes them with tears: a cry of gratitude which expresses how much words fail to to say.
She then dries them with her hair, kisses them and sprinkles them with perfume. They are acts of love, an expression of an almost incredulous joy: her heart is pervaded by trust in the mercy of which she has heard. Her mercy: mirror of God's tenderness, even for her, marginalized and despised by the people. Her immense gratitude prompted her to give all of herself to that messenger of love, all her richness expressed by the perfume of great value. Happy, she abandons herself to that love that welcomes her, believes in it and wants to enjoy it, she dives into it, coming out of herself, regardless of the malevolent comments of those present. She is in love with Jesus and has faith in Him. Jesus lets her do her and by entering into a relationship with her, he puts an end to that condition of isolation to which the merciless judgment of the Pharisee and her fellow citizens - who exploited her - condemned her .

The Pharisee does not conceive that Jesus lets himself be contaminated by sinners, he thinks that if he were really a prophet he should recognize them and keep them away, as if they were lepers. This is the typical attitude of a certain way of understanding religion and is motivated by the fact that God and sin are radically opposed. But the Word of God teaches us to distinguish between sin and the sinner: with sin we must not compromise, while sinners - that is, all of us - are sick, in need of a doctor who treats them, approaches them, examines them and touch them. And of course, in order to be healed, the sick person must recognize that he needs a doctor!

Jesus is not disturbed by Simon's comments, entirely taken by her who, aware of her misery, has opened herself to God's mercy, indeed with a parable she explains to him how much his faulty hospitality was compensated for by the woman's behavior and concludes by addressing the present with the phrase she expected: «her many sins are forgiven because she loved much». Jesus reveals that the unicum necessary is love.
Human love, an echo of divine love received from a heart open to the love of the Father. A too great love that only total faith can accept, as he concludes addressing the woman: «Your faith has saved you, go in peace!». On the one hand the hypocrisy of the doctor of the Law, on the other the sincerity, humility and faith of the woman. We are all sinners and often give in to the temptation of hypocrisy, believing ourselves better than others and judging them. It would be better to acknowledge our sin and look up to the Lord.
This is the line of salvation: to look up from the sinful "me" to the merciful God

Faith is the key to the whole story. It is faith that led this woman to Jesus, making her overcome all the prohibitions in which the Pharisee had locked her up, it is her faith that aroused in her those spontaneous gestures full of love. Hers is a loving faith through which she recognized Jesus as the messenger of God's forgiveness. Now she can leave with God's peace in her heart, which has renewed and purified her: she finally has found herself.

Anna Maria Del Prete
NP April 2023

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