Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.”
In today’s Gospel passage we witness a conflict among the “sinful woman”, Simon the Pharisee, and Jesus. In this passage, the Lord uses the sinner’s situation to try to bring the Pharisee to Him. For your own spiritual life, to draw from this Gospel passage, you have to put yourself in the sandals of this sinful woman.
Until we look seriously at our sins, at their effects on our souls, and at their consequences (for ourselves and for others, both in this world and in the next), our experience of prayer will be diminished, and so therefore will the benefits of our prayer. Too often in our prayer we’re like Simon the Pharisee instead of being like the sinful woman. The Pharisee says to himself, “If [Jesus] were a prophet, He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” By contrast, the sinful woman says nothing, but she acts with great love. The Pharisee speaks to himself with doubt about whether Jesus is even a prophet. But the woman acts with love towards Jesus, because she knows through faith that He is the Messiah who wants to wash away her sins.
If we wanted to sum up today’s Gospel passage, we could ponder just those two sentences that Jesus proclaims to Simon: “her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” In those words, Jesus teaches us two lessons. First, the virtue of humility is the beginning of a fruitful prayer life. Second, through that fruitful prayer the Christian finds the start of the contentment and peace of mind that remain elusive until we remain in God.