A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
It helps, sometimes, to take a different perspective. In many cultures, holiness is up; evil is down. The head is treated with honor and respect. Conversely, the feet are dirty and sinful. For these folks, the most humble word for “I” actually means, “I whose head is lower than the dust on your feet.”
So for a moment, let’s observe this woman with that other set of eyes. She never utters a word. Kneeling, she sheds silent tears, loosens her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet, even kisses them. Her actions form a wordless prayer of humility. Beginning with repentance from the depths of remorse, she ends in faithful worship that exalts Christ. “Before you, Lord, I am not worthy. Even the dust on your feet is greater than I. Receive, Lord, my tears. Take my hair to cleanse away the filth; receive my kisses to show how dear even your feet are to me.”
To affirm “I am humble” requires a prerequisite: self-examination and surrender of all impediments in my relationship to God and man. St. Ignatius’ memorable prayer, Suscipe, is that model for humble surrender. Today, let’s take a moment to surrender all we “have” to Christ.
— Howard Craig is the director of advancement for the Midwest Jesuits. He and his wife Cheryl have five daughters, six grandkids, and two dogs.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will.Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.
—St. Ignatius Loyola click here for a downloadable prayer cardPlease share the Good Word with your friends!