2 Samuel 12:7-10,13
God's judgment on David for taking another man's wife
Psalm 32, 1-2,5,7,11
A prayer for forgiveness.
We are justified through faith in Jesus Christ.
A sinful woman anoints Jesus' feet.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Before Lent began we were reading Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount, which is known as the Sermon on the Plain. Today's Gospel passage is taken from the following chapter of Luke's Gospel. The concern of this chapter, as well as in Chapters 8 and 9, is Jesus' identity as the Messiah, one who is greater than a prophet. Throughout the chapter Jesus has been performing miracles similar to those done by Old Testament prophets. When John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask who he was, Jesus listed the miracles they had seen him perform and then compared himself with John the Baptist to show that he was greater than John.
In today's Gospel Jesus sits down to eat a meal at the house of Simon, a Pharisee. A sinful woman approaches him, falls to her knees, wets his feet with her tears, dries them with her hair, and then anoints them with oil. A similar scene occurs in the other three Gospels, but in those versions the anointing takes place in Bethany, near Jerusalem, before Passover. In the other three Gospels, this anointing is related to his being proclaimed king by the crowds when he entered Jerusalem. It also related to his being anointed as a preparation for his burial. In Luke the anointing takes place north, in Galilee, early in his ministry.
Simon the Pharisee challenges Jesus, telling him that a prophet would surely know that a sinful person was touching him. Jesus responds by telling a story about the true nature of forgiveness. Two men owe money. One owes an amount that would equal 500 days' wages. The other owes 50 days' wages. Yet the moneylender forgives the debt of both when they ask him. Simon is forced to admit that the one who had the bigger debt canceled probably loves the moneylender more.
After telling the story, Jesus turns to the woman and tells her that her sins are forgiven. In this scene we see that Jesus does more than heal physical ailments, as prophets of the past had done. He also forgives sins. This leaves the crowd to ask, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” This question is answered in Chapter 9 by Peter when he professes that Jesus is the Messiah and at the Transfiguration when the voice from heaven declares, “This is my chosen Son.”
Today's reading ends with the first three verses of Chapter 8. At first they may seem unconnected to the scene that has come before. But they serve to show Jesus' ministry beginning to move from one town and village to another, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, until he eventually arrives in Jerusalem. He is accompanied not just by the Twelve but by a group of women, three of whom Luke names. It is significant that they are linked with the Twelve, and they seem to be equally important to Jesus' ministry. It is the women who provide for the needs of these travelers out of their own resources. Although in Palestinian society women had a much lesser role than men, in Luke's Gospel they are shown as equals.