Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by Anonymous
Her many sins were forgiven her, because she has shown great love.
A sinful woman has proclaimed to us that God's love has gone forth in search of sinners. For when he called her, Christ was inviting our whole race to love; and in her person he was drawing all sinners to his forgiveness.
He spoke to her alone, but he was drawing all creation to his grace.
No one else persuaded him to help her come to forgiveness; only his love for the one he himself had formed persuaded him to do this, and his own grace besought him on behalf of the work of his hands.
Who would not be struck by the mercy of Christ, who accepted an invitation to a Pharisee's house in order to save a sinner!
For the sake of the woman who hungered for forgiveness, he himself felt hunger for the table of Simon the Pharisee; and all the while, under the guise of a meal of bread, he had prepared for the sinner a meal of repentance!
The shepherd came down from heaven for the lost sheep, to catch in Simon's house the woman the cunning wolf had carried off. In the house of Simon the Pharisee he found the one he sought.
Seeing Jesus' feet, the sinner took them to be a symbol of his incarnation, and in grasping them believed herself to be grasping her God on the level of his corporal nature.
By her words she besought him as her Creator—for clearly her words, though not written down, may be guessed at from her actions. She must surely have uttered words corresponding to her deeds when she bathed his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and poured precious ointment over them.
It was a prayer that she offered to the incarnate God: by bringing him her humility she showed her trust in him, and by the conversation they had with one another she proved him to be truly man.
Such then were the words addressed to Jesus by the sinner when she clasped his feet. He listened to them patiently, his silence proclaiming his steadfastness, his patience proclaiming his endurance.
By his kindness he showed his approval of her boldness. He made it obvious that it was right for her to wrest pardon from him in the presence of all the guests.
He did not speak at once and when he spoke he uttered only one word, but by that word he destroyed sins, abolished faults, chased away iniquity, granted pardon, uprooted evil, and made righteousness bud.
All at once his forgiveness appeared within her soul and chased out of it the darkness of sin; she was cured, she recovered her wits, and gained both health and strength.
For when Jesus gives graces he gives them lavishly, as he easily can, being the God of all things.
In order that you may have the same experience, reflect within yourself that your sin is great, but that it is blasphemy against God and damage to yourself to despair of his forgiveness because your sin seems to you to be too great.
He has promised to forgive your sins, however many they are; will you tell him you cannot believe this and dispute with him, saying that your sin is too great; he cannot heal your sickness?
Stop at this point, and cry out with the prophet, “Lord, I have sinned against you.” At once he will reply, “As for me, I have overlooked your fault: you shall not die.” Glory to him from all of us, for all the ages. Amen.
(Orient Syrien 7, 1962: 180-181,189,193,194)
**From Saint Louis University