June 12, 2016 - 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
What does the Pharisee want? He wants Jesus to know how righteous and holy he is. But Jesus doesn’t seem to notice at all.
In his own mind, he has defined himself as “worthy” by creating a distinction between himself and all those other people he considers “unworthy.” He has made himself the judge of what is holy.
Because we are told that the woman is a sinner, it is safe for us to assume that Simon the Pharisee does not consider himself a sinner. In his mind, this makes him better than the woman.
Listen again to what he says to himself, “This Jesus is supposed to be some kind of prophet, isn’t he? Doesn’t he know what kind of woman this is?”
Well, in creating this distinction between himself and the sinful woman, what Simon is really saying sounds something like this, “Why is Jesus paying more attention to that sinful woman than he is to me, Can’t he see how holy I am?” He is arrogant and self-righteous.
There are many people in our church today who are just like Simon. They behave just like the Pharisees, pointing out the flaws of others but failing to see their own.
They believe pious actions somehow make them holy, making a distinction between themselves and sinners, all the while, justifying their judgment as orthodoxy.
Simon has been stingy with his hospitality. I bet he doesn’t even realize it because he is so self-absorbed with his own self-imagined holiness. He is overwhelmed with just how wonderful and holy he thinks he is.
But look at his actions. He does not greet the Lord Jesus with a holy kiss. He does not anoint Jesus’ head with oil as is the custom. He does not provide water for Jesus to wash his feet nor ointment to sooth them. He has given very little.
This might even make us wonder what he is up to. After all he is watching and judging every move.
Simon believes that he is already in a right relationship with God. But the woman has no doubt that she is not. The Pharisee and his guests judge the woman. The result: Jesus judges them.
Then there is the woman. She is deeply aware of her own sinfulness. She risks being rebuked by Simon as she bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears of repentance. Then she wipes his feet clean with her own hair and anoints them with costly perfumed oil.
Because she has shown great love, she has received much forgiveness. “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
On the other hand, the Pharisee, who has been stingy and judgmental, receives only a rebuke from Jesus.
The tale is cautionary. We are reminded not to be like the Pharisees. We are reminded not be judgmental. We are reminded not to be complacent in our relationship with God. We are also reminded not to think that we are holy while others are not.
Again, for the second weekend in a row, our readings tell us of God’s mercy. The Lord Jesus welcomes sinners with tender compassion. Those who kneel before him begging for mercy receive forgiveness.