There are three basic ways to reflect on today’s gospel. First of all, consider the Pharisee and then the woman. Jesus is an invited guest, but Simon shows him no signs of hospitality—no foot washing, no hand anointing, no welcoming kiss.  The invitation seems less about hospitality and more about curiosity and inquisition. The Pharisee is also quick to judge. Moreover, if he does not see himself as a sinful man, he cannot be forgiven.

Then there is the woman. Some exegetes tell us that she was forgiven her sins before the evening dinner. What we have here at the dinner is a great outpouring of love that springs from having received forgiveness. Clearly she is a woman of great capacity both to receive forgiveness and to give love.  It looks as if the Pharisee has neither.

Finally the story turns toward us. How do we treat a forgiven sinner? And how do we ourselves respond to Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and love?

—Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J., a long-time faculty member at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH, now lives at the Colombiere Jesuit Community, Clarkston, MI.