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and word He places the former sinner before the zealot of the Law; and He condemns the zealot.
Recalling the custom of the Orient, which Simon had slighted, He said to him:
“Dost thou see this woman? I entered thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet, but she with tears has washed my feet, and with her hair 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."
Behold now the Law of Pardon promulgated in the world, and first of all applied to woman, who had also been the first to sin! It behooved her, too, before all others to fall down at the feet of the Saviour, to ask, not recovery from bodily ailings, as multitudes do daily, but her moral rehabilitation for all the time to come.
Together with this Law of Pardon Jesus proclaims the Law of Justice, that forbids us to judge rashly and commands us to look into our own hearts before we blame others.
In this case the more so as the faults objected to are the very ones on which men inexorable, but which they mostly provoke. And in regard to these faults, the Redeemer pronounces Himself in the most explicit and touching manner: the great public sinner for the first time is absolved by Him in the most solemn way:
“Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less."
Oh, may all be forgiven in Mary of Magdala, the personification of guilty humanity! Love of God is the reparation of all her faults; it remedies evil in its cause and effects. Love of God, too, makes us lead a holy life, but love of self with contempt of God leads to violation of the Law. Disorderly self-love caused the fall and ruin of Mary Magdalen; love of God produced in her repentance, that leads to self-denial and a life of purity and virtue.
“Placing His love at the head of the commandments," writes St. Paulinus of Nola, "God made it possible for all of us, insolvent as we are, to pay our debts. Let, therefore, no one say: I have nothing, I cannot pay.
Has not each one a heart? No sacrifices are asked of us, no costly offerings, no hard works: within ourselves we find wherewith to pay; for if anything is ours, it is our love. Give it to the Lord, and He is satisfied. And more than that, for, from a creditor, He wants to become our debtor."*)
As a cold zealot of the Law and an excessive observer of the Law's formalities, Simon can neither love his God nor his neighbor, for, says Jesus to him: "I have entered thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet." He might have added — and Simon would have had to acknowledge the truth of it: "The sinner has come in here, and thou didst despise her.” For the Law of the love of God not only enjoins on us its punctual observance, but also commands us to love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves, the culprit not excepted; for he, too, is God's creature.
As to Mary, the now converted sinner, she loved with the love of repentance, that possesses the inysterious power to annihilate sin and renew the soul, by giving birth to a new creature. There is another kind of love, that which preserves the just in justice; but at bottom, both are the same,—the union of the soul with its God.
*) Mgr. Lagrange, “Life of St. Paulinus.”
“Then Jesus said to Mary: “Thy sins are forgiven thee."
He spoke as God, and the guests understood it well; for they began to say within themselves: “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” The Pharisees not only refused to recognize the divinity of the Saviour, but also felt displeased, that sin received such a prompt, large, and tender pardon. They shall never forgive that way, nor shall they. ever teach the people that God forgives so readily. The conduct of Jesus condemns them—they grumble.
O Holy Church, thou alone dost absolve in truth; thou alone art the repose of the poor sinner! Who before thee spoke a re-assuring word? Not the doctors in Israel, not the prophets, not the priests, not the philosophers, not Plato nor the oracles .... but Jesus did forgive, and thou, in His name, canst do likewise, because He commands thee to do so.
After this manifestation of His divine meekness Jesus leaves the Pharisees. Their hardened hearts degërve no further instruction.
His last word is addressed to Mary of Magdala: “Thy faith hath made thee safe. Go in peace!”
To fully believe in some one, means to give him our esteem, our confidence, and affection. The more firmly we believe, the more these sentiments will develop within us. The grace of graces for a Christian is the happiness of being firmly rooted in the faith brought to this earth by Jesus. In it and by it we find light and joy of mind, widening and peace of heart. From this summit, the Christian can embrace the wonder world of grace and nature; there he can enjoy them in their fulness and be satiated with them. For the glory of God hath enlightend them, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof."'*)
“Peace be with you,” was the customary salutation among the Jews, the sign by which they recognized each other, the wish they had for one another when they met. «Go in peace!” said the Saviour to her whom he had absolved. From Him these words are longer a wish, they are a gift. "Go in peace!" Such is the sublime blessing of His heart and His parting word at this famous banquet.
*) Apoc. XXI. 23.