Reflection: Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – 2S.12:7-10,13; Ps.31; 2nd Reading – Gal.2:16,19-21; Gospel – Lk.7:36-8:3]


Today’s gospel starts by telling us that Jesus was invited to a meal by a Pharisee called Simon who must have been one of the few Pharisees who befriended Jesus and invited him to his house.  The Pharisees were strong believers in The Law of Moses. For them, the Law in the Old Testament was everything and everything they did had to be done “according to the Law”. So, in the light of this context, it is easy to understand the Pharisee’s astonishment and comments when the woman “who had a bad name in the town” came in, waited at Jesus’ feet, wept, wet his feet with her tears, wiped them away with her hair, kissed and finally anointed his feet with the ointment she brought.

The Pharisee’s comment was a criticism both on Jesus (i.e. if he were a prophet) and on the woman (i.e. what kind of woman she is and what a bad name she has). The Pharisee’s reaction gave rise to Jesus’ teaching through the story of the creditor and the debtors. Jesus asked the Pharisee about who, of these two debtors, will love the creditor more if they were both pardoned and the Pharisee gave the right answer: the one who is pardoned the most will love the pardoner more.

We are not told if the Pharisee understood what Jesus was trying to tell him. We do know that Jesus continued to teach the Pharisee (as well as those who were present at the house) and at the same time Jesus also showed his appreciation towards the woman’s actions. Jesus placed both the Pharisee (the one with the good reputation) and the woman (the one with the bad reputation) on the same level i.e. they are both sinners. While the woman was conscious of her own sins and was ready to go to Jesus and do what she did because she recognised not only her misery, but also Jesus’ power; in contrast the Pharisee did not recognise his own misery nor Jesus’ true power, which was evident through the Pharisee’s initial comments: ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is that is touching him and what a bad name she has.

Jesus, through his actions, gave evidence that he was not only a Prophet but he was also acting in God’s name because “he forgave her sins.” Furthermore, Jesus also gave evidence that he already knew all he needed to know about the woman touching him. Jesus showed them that he was seeing more than they themselves were seeing. While they saw only a woman with a bad name in the town, Jesus saw a woman who needed to know what real love was … someone who experienced love itself. According to Jesus’ words, he saw in her a person whose “many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love”. At the same time Jesus also gave evidence that he also knew all he needed to know about Simon, the Pharisee in front of him. Jesus knew that this Pharisee was a sinner and, like the woman, he also needed to know what love was.  However, unlike the woman, although this Pharisee experienced love, he was not appreciating it because his sins ‘were not as many as’ the woman’s. While the woman was conscious of her situation, the Pharisee was not!

Lord God, how often we have the wrong perception of ourselves and we put our minds at ease thinking that we are in your presence but in reality we are far from it! Help us to be conscious of our actual relationship with you.  Thank You Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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