1. Hear and be comforted, beloved, how merciful is God. To the sinful woman
He forgave her offences; yea, He upheld her when she was afflicted. With
clay He opened the eyes of the blind, so that the eyeballs beheld the light.
To the palsied He granted healing, who arose and walked and carried Iris
bed. And to us He has given the pearls; His holy Body and Blood. He brought
His medicines secretly; and with them He heals openly. And He wandered round
in the land of Judea, like a physician, bearing his medicines. Simon invited
Him to the feast, to eat bread in his house. The sinful woman rejoiced when
she heard that He sat and was feasting in Simon's house; her thoughts gathered
together like the sea, and like the billows her love surged. She beheld the
Sea of Grace, how it had forced itself into one place; and she resolved to
go and drown all her wickedness in its billows.
2. She bound her heart, because it had offended, with chains and tears of
suffering; and she began weeping with herself: "What avails me this fornication?
What avails this lewdness? I have defiled the innocent ones without shame;
I have corrupted the orphan; and without fear I have robbed the merchants
of merchandise, and my rapacity was not satisfied. I have been as a bow in
war, and have slain the good and the bad. I have been as a storm on the sea,
and have sunk the ships of many. Why did I not win me one man, who might
have corrected my lewdness? For one man is of God, but many are of Satan."
3. These things she inwardly said; then began she to do outwardly. She washed
and put away from her eyes the dye that blinded them that saw it. And tears
gushed forth from her eyes over that deadly eyepaint. She drew off and cast
from her hands the enticing bracelets of her youth. She put off and cast
away from her body the tunic of fine linen of whoredom, and resolved to go
and attire herself in the tunic the garment of reconciliation. She drew off
and cast from her feet the adorned sandals of lewdness; and directed the
steps of her going in the path of the heavenly Eagle. She took up her gold
in her palm and held it up to the face of heaven, and began to cry secretly,
to Him who hears openly: "This, O Lord, that I have gained from iniquity,
with it will I purchase to myself redemption. This which was gathered from
orphans, with it will I win the Lord of orphans."
4. These things she said secretly; then began to do openly. She took up the
gold in her palm, and carried the alabaster box in her hands. Then hastily
went she forth in sadness to the perfumer. The perfumer saw her and wondered,
and fell into questioning with her; and thus he began to say to the harlot
in the first words he spoke: "Was it not enough for thee, harlot, that thou
hast corrupted all our town? What means this fashion that thou showest today
to thy lovers--that thou hast put off thy wantonness and hast clothed thyself
in modesty? Heretofore, when thou camest to me, thy aspect was different
from today's. Thou wast clothed in goodly raiment, and didst bring little
gold; and didst ask for precious ointment, to make thy lewdness pleasant.
But lo! today thy vesture is mean, and thou hast brought much gold. Thy change
I understand not; wherefore is this fashion of thine? Either clothe thee
in raiment according to thy ability, or buy ointment according to thy clothing.
For this ointment becomes not or is suited to this attire. Can it be that
a merchant has met thee, and brings great wealth; and thou hast seen that
he loves it not, the fashion of thy lewdness? So thou hast put off thy lewdness
and hast clothed thyself in meekness, that by various fashions thou mayest
capture much wealth. But if he loves this fashion because he is a chaste
man in truth, then woe to him! Into what has he fallen? Into a gulf that
has swallowed up his merchandise. But I give thee advice, as a man that desires
thy welfare, that thou send away thy many lovers who have helped thee nought
from thy youth, and henceforth seek out one husband who may correct thy
5. These things spake the perfumer, in wisdom, to the harlot. The sinful
woman answered and said to him, to the perfumer after his discourse, "Hinder
me not, O man, and stop me not by thy questioning. I have asked of thee ointment,
not freely, but I will pay thee its value not grudgingly. Take thee the gold,
as much as thou demandest, and give me the precious ointment; take thee that
which endures not and give me that which endures; and I will go to Him who
endures, and will buy that which endures. And as to that thou saidst, about
a merchant; a Man has met me today Who bears riches in abundance. He has
robbed me and I have robbed Him; He has robbed me of my transgressions and
sins, and I have robbed Him of His wealth. And as to that thou saidst of
a husband; I have won me a Husband in heaven, Whose dominion stands for ever,
and His kingdom shall not be dissolved?" She took up the ointment and went
6. In haste went she forth; as Satan saw her and was enraged; and was greatly
grieved in his mind. At one time he rejoiced, and again at another he was
grieved. That she carried the perfumed oil, he rejoiced in his inward mind;
but that she was clad in mean raiment--at this doing of hers he was afraid.
He clave then to her and followed her, as a robber follows a merchant. He
listened to the murmurs of her lips, to hear the voice of her words. He closely
watched her eyeballs to mark whither the glance of her eyes was directed;
and as he went he moved by her feet to mark whither her goings were directed.
Very full of craft is Satan, from our words to learn our aim. Therefore our
Lord has taught us not to raise our voice when we pray, that the Devil may
not hear our words and draw near and become our adversary. So then, when
Satan saw that he could not change her mind, he clothed himself in the fashion
of a man, and drew to himself a crowd of youths, like her lovers of former
times; and then began he thus to address her: "By thy life, O woman, tell
me whither are thy footsteps directed? What means this haste? For thou hasteth
more than other days. What means this thy meekness, for thy soul is meek
like a handmaid's? Instead of garments of fine linen, lo! thou art clothed
in sordid weeds; instead of bracelets of gold and silver, there are not even
rings on thy fingers; instead of goodly sandals for thy feet, not even worn
shoes are on thy feet. Disclose to me all thy doing, for I understand not
thy change. Is it that some one of thy lovers has died, and thou goest to
bury him? We will go with time to the funeral, and with thee will take part
with thee in sorrow."
7. The sinful woman answered and said to him, even to Satan, after his speech:
"Well hast thou said that I go to inter the dead, one that has died to me.
The sin of my thoughts has died, and I go to bury it." Satan answered and
said to her, even to the sinful woman after her words: "Go to, O woman, I
tell thee that I am the first of thy lovers. I am not such as thou, and I
place my hands upon thee. I will give thee again more gold than before."
8. The sinful woman answered and said to him, even to Satan after his discourse:
"I am wearied of thee, O man, and thou art no more my lover. I have won me
a husband in heaven, Who is God, that is over all, and His dominion stands
for ever, and His kingdom shall not be dissolved. For lo! in thy presence
I say; I say it again and I lie not. I was a handmaid to Satan from my childhood
unto this day. I was a bridge, and he trode upon me, and I destroyed thousands
of men. The eyepaint blinded my eyes, and I was blind among many whom I blinded.
I became sightless and knew not that there is One Who gives light to the
sightless. Lo! I go to get light for mine eyes, and by that light to give
light to many. I was fast bound, and knew not that there is One Who overthrows
idols. Lo! I go to have my idols destroyed, and so to destroy the follies
of many. I was wounded and knew not that there is One Who binds up wounds;
and lo! I go to have my wounds bound." These things the harlot spake to Satan
in her wisdom; and he groaned and was grieved and wept; and he cried aloud
and thus he spake: "I am conquered by thee, O woman, and what I shall do
I know not."
9. As soon as Satan perceived that he could not change her mind, he began
to weep for himself and thus it was that he spake: "Henceforth is my boasting
perished, and the pride of all my days. How shall I lay for her a snare,
for her who is ascending on high? how shall I shoot arrows at her, even at
her whose wall is unshaken? Therefore I go into Jesus' presence; lo! she
is about to enter His presence; and I shall say to Him thus: "This woman
is an harlot." Perchance He may reject and not receive her. And I shall say
to Him thus: "This woman who comes into Thy presence is a woman that is an
harlot. She has led captive men by her whoredom; she is polluted from her
youth. But Thou, O Lord, art righteous; all men throng to see Thee. And if
mankind see Thee that Thou hast speech with the harlot, they all will flee
from Thy presence, and no man will salute Thee."
10. These things Satan spake within himself, nor was he moved. Then he changed
the course of his thought, and thus it was that he spake. "How shall I enter
into Jesus' presence, for to Him the secret things are manifest? He knows
me, who I am, that no good office is my purpose. If haply He rebuke me I
am undone, and all my wiles will be wasted. I will go to the house of Simon,
for secret things are not manifest to him. And into his heart I will put
it; perchance on that hook he may be caught. And thus will I say unto him:
By thy life, O Simon, tell me; this man that sojourns in thy house is he
a man that is righteous, or a friend of the doers of wickedness? I am a wealthy
man, and a man that has possessions, and I wish like thee to invite him that
he may come in and bless my possessions."
11. Simon answered and thus he said to the Evil One after his words: "From
the day that first I saw Him I have seen no lewdness in Him, but rather quietness
and peace, humility and seemliness. The sick He heals without reward, the
diseased He freely cures. He approaches and stands by the grave, and calls,
and the dead arise. Jairus called Him to raise his daughter to life, trusting
that He could raise her to life. And as He went with him in the way, He gave
healing to the woman diseased, who laid hold of the hem of His garment and
stole healing from Him, and her pain which was hard and bitter at once departed
from her. He went forth to the desert and saw the hungry, how they were fainting
with famine. He made them sit down on the grass, and fed them in His mercy.
In the ship He slept as He willed, and the sea swelled against the disciples.
He arose and rebuked the billows, and there was a great calm. The widow,
the desolate one who was following her only son, on the way to the grave
He consoled her. He gave him to her and gladdened her heart. To one man who
was dumb and blind, by His voice He brought healing. The lepers He cleansed
by His word; to the limbs of the palsied He restored strength. For the blind
man, afflicted and weary, He opened his eyes and he saw the light. And for
two others who besought Him, at once He opened their eyes. As for me, thus
have I heard the fame of the man from afar; and I called Him to bless my
possessions, and to bless all my flocks and herds."
12. Satan answered and said to him, to Simon after his words: "Praise not
a man at his beginning, until thou learnest his end; hitherto this man is
sober and his soul takes not pleasure in wine. If he shall go forth from
thy house, and holds not converse with an harlot, then he is a righteous
man and no friend of them that do wickedness." Such things did Satan speak
in his craftiness to Simon. Then he approached and stood afar off, to see
what should come to pass.
13. The sinful woman full of transgressions stood clinging by the door. She
clasped her arms in prayer, and thus she spake beseeching: "Blessed Son Who
hast descended to earth for the sake of man's redemption, close not Thy door
in my face; for Thou hast called me and lo! I come. I know that Thou hast
not rejected me; open for me the door of Thy mercy, that I may come in, O
my Lord, and find refuge in Thee, from the Evil One and his hosts! I was
a sparrow, and the hawk pursued me, and I have fled and taken refuge in Thy
nest. I was a heifer, and the yoke galled me, and I will turn back my wanderings
to Thee. Lay upon me the shoulder of Thy yoke that I may take it on me, and
work with Thy oxen." Thus did the harlot speak at the door with much weeping.
The master of the house looked and saw her, and the colour of his visage
was changed; and he began thus to address her, even the harlot, in the opening
of his words: "Depart thou hence, O harlot, for this man who abides in our
house is a man that is righteous, and they that are of his companions are
blameless. Is it not enough for thee, harlot, that thou hast corrupted the
whole town? Thou hast corrupted the chaste without shame; thou hast robbed
the orphans, and hast not blushed, and hast plundered the merchants' wares,
and thy countenance is not abashed. From him thy heart and soul labour to
take. But from him thy net takes no spoil. For this man is righteous indeed,
and they of his company are blameless."
14. The sinful woman answered and said to him, even to Simon when he had
ceased "Thou surely art the guardian of the door, O thou that knowest things
that are secret I will propose the matter in the feast, and thou shall be
free from blame. And if there be any that wills me to come in, he will bid
me and I will come in."
Simon ran and closed the door, and approached and stood afar off. And he
tarried a long time and proposed not the matter in the feast. But He, Who
knows what is secret, beckoned to Simon and said to him: "Come hither, Simon,
I bid thee; does any one stand at the door? Whosoever he be, open to him
that he may come in; let him receive what he needs, and go. If he be hungry
and hunger for bread, lo! in thy house is the table of life; and if he be
thirsty, and thirst for water, lo! the blessed fountain is in thy dwelling.
And if he be sick and ask for healing, lo! the great Physician is in thy
house. Suffer sinners to look upon Me, for their sakes have I abased Myself.
I will not ascend to heaven, to the dwelling whence I came down, until I
bear back the sheep that has wandered from its Father's house, and lift it
up on My shoulders and bear it aloft to heaven."
Simon answered and thus he said to Jesus, when He had done speaking: "My
Lord, this woman that stands in the doorway is a harlot: she is lewd and
not free-born, polluted from her childhood. And Thou, my Lord, art a righteous
man, and all are eager to see Thee; and if men see Thee having speech with
the harlot, all men will flee from beside Thee, and no man will salute Thee."
Jesus answered, and thus He said to Simon when he was done speaking:--" Whosoever
it be, open for him to come in, and thou shall be free from blame; and though
his offences be many, without rebuke I bid thee receive him."
15. Simon approached and opened the door, and began thus to speak: "Come,
enter, fulfil that thou willest, to him who is even as thou." The sinful
woman, full of transgressions, passed forward and stood by His feet, and
clasped her arms in prayer, and with these words she spake: "Mine eyes have
become watercourses that cease not from watering the fields, and to-day they
wash the feet of Him Who follows after sinners. This hair, abundant in locks
from my childhood till this day, let it not grieve Thee that it should wipe
this holy body. The mouth that has kissed the lewd, forbid it not to kiss
the body that remits transgressions and sins."
These things the harlot spake to Jesus, with much weeping. And Simon stood
afar off to see what He would do to her.
But He Who knows the things that are secret, beckoned to Simon and said to
him: "Lo! I will tell thee, O Simon, what thy meditation is, concerning the
harlot. Within thy mind thou imaginest and within thy soul thou saidst, 'I
have called this man righteous, but lo! the harlot kisses Him. I have called
Him to bless my possessions, and lo! the harlot embraces Him.' O Simon, there
were two debtors, whose creditor was one only; one owed him five-hundred
pence, and the other owed fifty. And when the creditor saw that neither of
these two had aught, the creditor pardoned and forgave them both their debt.
Which of them ought to render the greater thanks? He who was forgiven five
hundred, or he who was forgiven fifty?"
Simon answered, and thus he said to Jesus, when He had done speaking: "He
who was forgiven five hundred ought to render the greater thanks." Jesus
answered and thus He said: "Thou art he that owes five hundred, and this
woman owes fifty. Lo! I came into thy house, O Simon; and water for My feet
thou broughtest not; and this woman, of whom thou saidst that she was an
harlot, one from her childhood defiled, has washed My feet with her tears,
and with her hair she has wiped them. Ought I to send her away, O Simon,
without receiving forgiveness? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, I will write
of her in the Gospel. Go, O woman, thy sins are forgiven thee and all thy
transgression is covered; henceforth and to the end of the world."
May our Lord account us worthy of hearing this word of His: "Come, enter,
ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom made ready for all who shall
do My will, and observe all My commandments." To Him be glory; on us be mercy;
at all times. Amen! Amen!