By Deacon Roger Duffy
In the Gospel of Luke (7:36 – 8:3) the parable of the sinful woman crashing the Pharisee’s dinner party to ask Jesus for forgiveness has many reactions. The host silently wonders if Jesus were a prophet, then does he know she is a sinful woman. Jesus wonders why the host has ignored common acts of hospitality to welcome him as a guest on a dusty day. Both ask “How could.”
questions about the uninvited woman. The key figure is the woman herself, who provides the hospitality the host fails to give and who humbles herself to clean Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair, removing the dirt from a days’ journey, taking his filth on herself. Jesus will take on her filth, her sins because of her contrition. Though she was in fact a sinner, Jesus tells of the danger of being righteous in our eyes when in fact we are seen by God as who we are, a people in great need of forgiveness.
To be forgiven by God is to acknowledge our own sin, not that of someone else.
Repenting for our sins is the beginning of the process of being Jesus disciple – but it’s not the end. Perhaps after her encounter with Jesus, she would be known as “the woman formerly known as a sinner,” which would be nice for her but neither she nor any of us will ever stop being sinners during our earthly life. Due to original sin, our human condition makes us all potential sinners. Frustrating as it is, even in the light of God’s great forgiveness, we all remain sinners.
Since our salvation emerges from God’s mercy and God’s mercy thankfully, never ceases, we are able to return to Jesus with our own tears and repentance over and over. God is always there to forgive, when we offer our admission of our sin and offer contrition to avoid the sin.
The parable of the sinful woman teaches us that God is never done with us, even when we feel done with ourselves. Faith in Jesus Christ isn’t a one-time event like checking off something on our “bucket list” of things to do in life.
The Christian life is marked not just by sinful stumbling along the way but by getting up, dusting ourselves off and walking home to Christ as often as we need to repent. When we walk into the house to encounter Jesus, we receive the same repentance that the sinful woman did; a welcome home. God is never done with us.
Roger Duffy is a Deacon at St. Brigid Church where he is the Business Manager.