A WOMAN OF SINFULL LIFE (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

A WOMAN OF SINFULL LIFE (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

There are a few captivating characters in the New Testament. But their names are not given. An evangelist and historian Luke has portrayed one such character as a woman of sinful life.

Different evangelists have narrated the story of woman annointing Jesus head and pouring perfume on his legs a few days before his death. But the story differs from one evangelist to another. So there are differences of opinion among biblical scholars if they are speaking about one and the same event and person or different events and different persons.

Here the story narrated by Luke is quite different from similar stories by other evangelists. A fallen woman is an abomination in the sight of an honorable Pharisee. Such a woman comes to his house and meets his honourable guest Jesus pouring expensive alabaster perfume on Jesus feet. Obviously Jesus welcomes the sinful women allowing her to pour perfume and to kiss his feet!

In the sight of the Pharisee a prophet like Jesus becomes suspect in welcoming and allowing a woman of sinful life to touch him.

Perhaps the host Simon, the Pharisee must have told his friends about his invitation to Jesus for a meal in his house. Such stories spread fast going by word of mouth in the neighbourhood. The fallen woman must have also heard about Jesus who welcomed sinners without even condemning them or being judgmental! So hearing that Jesus is dining at Simon the Pharisees house, the sinful woman rushes there without bothering anyone.

Simon must have been flabbergasted to see a woman, who is a known sinner, in his house. But seeing Jesus welcoming and apparently approving her action the indignant Simon could not do anything. But he is certainly furious inside.

But Jesus recognized the hatred of Simon for the sinful woman and his unwelcoming attitude towards her. So Jesus who has said that Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered (Mt 10, 26), called his host Simons attention in front of all the guest at table towards the genuine love of the woman whom the host consider a hateful person. Then Jesus also pointed out not only to what was lacking in the hospitality of Simon but he also said to the woman, Your sins are forgiven.

It is relevant here to read the whole passage narrated by Luke in his Gospel.

A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and Jesus went to his house and sat down to eat. In that town was a woman who lived a sinful life. She heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisees house, so she brought and alabaster jar full of perfume and stood behind Jesus, by his feet, crying and wetting his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them, and poured the perfume on them. When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him; he would know what kind of sinful life she lives!

Jesus spoke up and said to him, Simon, I have something to tell you.

Yes, Teacher, he said, tell me.

There were two men who owed money to a money-lender, Jesus began. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty, Neither of them could pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Which one, then, will love him more?

I suppose, answered Simon, that it would be the one who was forgiven more.

You are right, said Jesus. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I came into your home, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, but she has not stopped kissing my feet since I came. You provided no olive oil for my head, but she has covered my head, but she has covered my feet with perfume. I tell you, then the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.

Then Jesus said to the woman, Your sins are forgiven.

The others sitting at the table began to say to themselves, Who is this, who even forgives sins?

But Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace (Lk 7, 36-50).

In this narration of the whole event we see a unique quality of the sinful woman. She recognizes Jesus as a personification of forgiveness and of mercy. So she taking with her most costly perfume goes to meet Jesus who has come to her village. People of the village consider her a sinful woman. But she does not care what others think about her. She goes to Simon the Pharisees house uninhibited and falls at Jesus feet with repentance and remorse. Jesus recognizes the love and the remorse of the woman at his feet. He welcomes her, forgives her and tells all the people present that her sins are forgiven.

Evangelists Mathew and Mark have also narrated the same or perhaps a very similar story of Jesus being annointed by a nameless woman. The disciples of Jesus in the story deplore the waste of expensive perfume in the annointing Jesus. But Jesus defends the woman saying that, what she did was to pour this perfume on my body to get me ready for burial (Mt. 26-12). He also proclaims that, Now, I assure you that wherever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. Jesus prediction has come true that the nameless woman or women and her/their action of unsurpassable beauty are remembered ever since over the ages to this day. (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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સિસ્ટર પુષ્પલતા, એલ.ડી.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)

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