September 20, 2012 - Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 28
Luke 7:36-50

Simon the Pharisee wondered whether Jesus was a prophet, so he invited him to dinner. He is sure that Jesus would know the sins of the woman who was washing his feet, if he were. Well, Jesus did know her sins, and he proved it. Simon asked himself a question, and Jesus answered, proving that he knew not only the woman’s sins, but the internal thoughts of Simon the Pharisee.

The point of Jesus’ parable is that those who have not been brought low by sin and raised high by grace think that they stand proud and independent. Simon thought that he was in a position to judge whether Jesus was really a prophet. The woman knew that she was lucky to be in a position to wash his feet.

They invited Jesus to dinner in order to find out who he really is. They found out. He is not only a prophet. He is the one who can forgive sins. He is humble enough to come and be judged by foolish Pharisees, but he acknowledges how he ought to have been treated: like an honored guest whose feet are washed, like a friend who is greeted with a kiss, like a king whose head is anointed with oil.

So should Simon and his friends go out and rack up a huge debt to God by sinning wildly so that they can be forgiven and love like the woman? Should they sin so that grace will abound? By no means. There is no such need. The pride of Simon the Pharisee is enough. If he repents of his pride, if he is saved from being a judgmental jerk, he will have plenty to be grateful to God for. St. Paul was a Pharisee, like Simon. He persecuted the Church. He thought that he was righteous, but when he saw Christ and was converted, he realized that he was a sinner.

So whether we are a sinner like the woman or a sinner like St. Paul, we do not need to worry: we have plenty to be forgiven for. If anyone is concerned that they have been Christian since their youth and have no great sins to repent, then they can be grateful for what they were saved from. Everyone can thank God either for forgiveness of sins or the grace to avoid sins. Either way, no one, not even his immaculate mother, can stand proud before Jesus, without gratitude.