This weekend our Gospel presents a scenario that shows how transformative God’s mercy can be. Simon, a “righteous” Pharisee, wants nothing to do with mercy, but rather places all his focus on what he perceives as justice. He judges the woman and he judges Jesus and thereby is not welcoming to either one of them.
The woman, who is assumed to be a public sinner, comes on the scene and welcomes Jesus with signs of tenderness. They are attracted to each other: she for his reputation of kindness, and he for her sincere repentance.
Simon is not impressed by their mutual display of affection, so Jesus offers him a little story to make the situation very clear. Then Jesus sends the woman away, reminding her that she need no longer live with shame and regret for the past, because her sins had been forgiven.
The second section of today’s Gospel is about a group of women who follow Jesus and who take good care of him and the apostles. They had positive, healing encounters with Jesus and now have committed their lives to him.
At the risk of generalizing about gender traits, which is dangerous in today’s politically correct environment, women sometimes may have an easier time relating to Jesus and his message. Women have a deep longing to belong, to share, and to receive from others. Yes, injuries can disturb these sensitivities, but women seem to know why these aspects of relationship are so important.
For us men, more effort is placed on fixing things, getting the job done, so they can move on to the next “project.” Perhaps there is much that we can learn from the way women relate to Jesus. He invites us to let go of our grumbling, fixing, and our projects. We tend to demand “justice” rather than receive mercy, in regard to ourselves as well as others. We all are the “sinful” woman and the Pharisee and Jesus doesn’t condemn us, but sends us out to live more fully in his mercy and grace.