The theme for today is TRANSFORMATION. It is the transformation which takes place in the most inner part of our soul and is then manifested in what we believe and how we act. St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians spells out the transformation needed once we have realized that we have been saved. St. Paul tells us, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me". At the time when St. Paul lived he was preaching conversion of the inner self-the inner person. Those to whom he was preaching were tied to the Mosaic Law filled with minute details of what is right and what is wrong. He tells the Galatians, "We know that a person can not be justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of the law because by works of the law no one will be justified."
Once we actually believe that we are redeemed by Christ, we have the power to change our whole life, how we believe, what is important, how we treat others, what we value, what is important to us.
The story of Simon and the woman in the Gospel is one of the most detailed and yet simple of all scripture. Simon was a Pharisee who had invited Jesus to his home for dinner. Simon was familiar with the ritual purity detailed in the Mosaic Law. Simon wanted to show off to his friends that he could invite this now becoming famous Jesus to his home. Simon had little respect for Jesus and did not even offer him the barest measure of hospitality. Simon was a Pharisee who believed himself to be justified by his scrupulous observance of the Law; the written Torah as well as the elaborate web of detailed prescriptions known as the oral law.
For her part, the unnamed woman, who crashed the party understood that she was a sinner in need of God's salvific mercy and forgiveness. Unlike Simon, she welcomed the opportunity to minister to Jesus who in turn ministered to the woman and assured her that her faith in him had brought her peace, forgiveness and salvation.
This story is one of the few stories in scripture where one of the main people does not speak at all. We do not know the name of the woman; we do not know what she had done in her life to seek out the forgiveness of Jesus; we know nothing of her. Over the years some have felt the woman was guilty of sexual sins---strange how some feel sexual sins are the worst sins. Sins from the waist down are not the worst-rather sins from the neck up seem to be the worst sins. Jesus does not focus on what the woman did-that has no bearing on him or his relationship to her. The only thing that is important to Jesus in this story is the fact that the woman acknowledged the salvation she needed would only come from Jesus.
Simon and the other Pharisees can not see nor understand the total extravagant love this woman exhibits toward Jesus. They are too wrapped up in following their detailed prescriptions of the Mosaic Law that they can not understand any other way. Perhaps in our youth we also got entangled in following some laws that we thought would bring us to heaven. I am sure we can remember those times.
Our salvation is a total gift from God and there is nothing we can do to earn it. As St. Paul tells us once we know that we are loved beyond measure; that the love God has for us is unending; that this total love for us is given as gift; then we in the depths of our soul must change and realize it is God living within us and God living within every one and every living thing. When that realization is actualized our outlook on life must be radically changed. That is why St. Paul gets so animated when people believed that following the Mosaic Law would bring them salvation. The choice to be saved is not ours : it is never ours-it is a gift from God.
We come to believe and to act that we are all one and related to one another. There are no barriers of any kind to be put between us and any one else. At times it is hard to put this belief into practice.