to introduce and conclude this next parable with the text surrounding it
because it is so beautiful. The story of St. Mary Magdalen is one close to
And one of the
Pharisees desired him to eat with him. And he went into the house of the
Pharisee, and sat down to meat.
And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that he
sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment;
And standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet, with tears,
and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed
them with the ointment.
And the Pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying:
This man, if he were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of
woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner.
And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee.
But he said: Master, say it.
Itself: Luke 7:41-43
A certain creditor
had two debtors, the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore
of the two loveth him most? Simon answering, said: I suppose that he to whom
he forgave most. And he said to him: Thou hast judged rightly.
And turning to
the woman, he said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy
house, thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she with tears hath washed
my feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. Thou gavest me no kiss; but
she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil
thou didst not anoint; but she with ointment hath anointed my feet.
Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved
much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. And he said to her: Thy
sins are forgiven thee. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within
themselves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman:
Thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.
from the Catholic Encyclopedia
In St. Luke the
two debtors is spoken by our Lord to Simon "the leper" (Mark 14:2-9) on occasion
of Mary Magdalene's conversion, with its touching circumstances. At least
since St. Gregory the Great, Catholic writers have so understood the history.
The double saying "Many sins are forgiven her, for she loved much", and "to
whom less is forgiven, he loveth less", has a perfectly clear human sense,
in accordance with facts.
We cannot deduce from such almost proverbial expressions a theory of
justification. The lesson concerns gratitude for mercies received, with a
strong emphasis on the hard arrogance of the Pharisee over against the lowly
and tender bearing of the "woman who was a sinner".