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Which of Them Will Love Him More?

Saturday night I went to vigil Mass and absorbed the readings and Gospel. I paid close attention to the judgment and disgust the Pharisees had for the “sinful woman” and the mercy and forgiveness Jesus showers on her. I was shocked at the courage this woman had to enter a Pharisee’s home uninvited. She heard every hateful word they spoke about her, all true, but still hurtful. I was moved by her mindfulness not to dishonor Christ by bathing His feet from behind with her tears versus face-to-face.

But more than anything, I was struck by the awareness of her sin and her need for forgiveness. And, in return, Jesus saw the love she was seeking and the love she was pouring out on Him. So much so, He rescues and validates her in a way similar to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) by telling a parable that calls out the Pharisees while providing forgiveness and healing.

“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:41-42)

She is the man in the parable Jesus speaks of who owes five hundred days wages. In fact, an alabaster jar of ointment would cost three hundred days wages. So when Jesus asks the Pharisee “which of them will love him more?” He is reprimanding the Pharisee while honoring the love of this repentant sinner.

We’ve all been the “sinful woman,” hearing people speak hateful words about us, feeling the sting because we recognize they are speaking truth. We have all also been the condemnatory Pharisee, looking at adults and teens, seeing their sin and choices more than the person God originally created them to be. But do we run to the Lord with a heart that longs to love and be loved by Him? Are we sorrowful for our sins to the point that our tears purify His feet and remove all muck from His journey?

There is much in our world today that should have us falling to Christ’s feet in sorrow, contrition, fear, and admission of sin. When you awoke to the news on Sunday morning of another crime of terrorism and hate, what were your first thoughts? Were they thoughts of anger or fear, or were they an adamant desire for mercy on the souls that died in Florida? Watching images of people attending to wounded strangers and loved ones, did you, like me, see the concern and love pouring out on the injured parallel the Gospel story of the woman anointing the feet of Jesus?

This Gospel demands that we see each other as God created us, in His image and likeness. We must never pick at our neighbors wounds so as to leave a scar, but love one another in radical ways and anoint the wounds of our brothers and sisters, so the scars disappear. Our teens and world need the ointment from the “sinful woman” more than the judgment of Pharisees in the Gospel of Luke. Who will you choose to be in your ministry and life?

About the Author

Tricia Tembreull

Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a Texas-size heart for hospitality. She said yes over twenty years ago to God’s call to youth ministry and never could’ve imagined the adventures and people He had planned for her to encounter along the way. She serves as a Parish Coach for Life Teen and joyfully travels around the globe training, empowering, and praying with youth ministers. When not on a plane, you can find Tricia in a church, spending time with family and friends, in the kitchen cooking up something delightful, or on the beach for an evening walk.