Today we honour the memory of the Dominican Saint John Macias, born in Spain in 1585. He emigrated to Peru and after some time working on a cattle ranch he became a Dominican Lay Brother and was the porter in the Friary in Lima for over 20 years. He is noted for his care for the poor and for his praying the Rosary offering all his prayers for the release of souls in Purgatory. Brother John never preached or wrote a word but his example of a holy life touched so many. He died in 1645 and was canonised in 1975 by Pope Paul VI.
Today’s gospel is a lesson in reconciliation much like the parable of the Prodigal Son. In both accounts, we encounter people who have much to be forgiven, people who acknowledged their sins and made the effort to turn away from a sinful lifestyle.
While the specific sin of the woman isn’t mentioned, the intimation is that she is a prostitute. This woman comes to Our Lord and she shows her contrition by using expensive oil to anoint his feet.
We all owe God a debt that we can never repay. God chooses not to bear the weight of unforgiveness; He forgives because it is his nature to forgive. Now forgiveness is only one part of reconciliation. Contrition and the desire to change complete the process.
The woman in the gospel understood the gravity of her sins. She had faith in God’s desire to forgive her, and she responded with deep sorrow, love and gratitude. Her symbolic action of cleansing Our Lord’s feet expressed her contrition and her desire to change her life.
We must always remember that no sin is too great to receive God’s forgiveness. It is we, not God, who put up the barriers to reconciliation. Someone once commented that God’s mercy falls like the rain, but some people have their umbrellas up. The woman in the gospel was open to God’s forgiveness and even more importantly she was open to God’s love. Can we be as open and as vulnerable?