1Tm 4:12-16; Ps 111:7-10; Lk 7:36-50
Indeed, the Psalms go on to say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the crown of wisdom. Only those who are prudent live by it. All the saints had learned the wisdom of living in the fear of the Lord so they were not afraid of any threat from their enemies. Even the threat of death did not restrain their witness and praise. In the death of these martyrs we see the deliverance God has for his people. They were delivered from the darkness of evil and falsehood. As Saint Paul reminded his disciple Saint Timothy to not neglect the gift given to them through the prophetic word and the imposition of hands in Confirmation and for some in Ordination. The Lord Jesus affirms the great love of the great sinner who repents, and he sends her away in peace because her faith has saved her. We, too, leave this mass and every mass in the Peace of Christ because our faith in the One who calls us to renew our covenant with him also sends us forth to witness no matter what suffering awaits us.
It seems from the first reading that many in the early church had contempt for the youth of Saint Timothy. Rejection or acceptance by the crowds is never the main point of ministry for Saint Paul or for the Lord Jesus. Both were rejected and killed by their enemies. However, the wisdom of the Lord begins and ends in the fear of the Lord. Saint Timothy and all of us are to have a greater dread of offending the Lord than we have for offending our public. Wanting to live in awe and wonder all the days of our life is the great gift of the Holy Spirit that has been given to us in the laying on of hands. Our progress in holiness is a much greater witness than our success or our popularity. If we attend to our growth in virtue and our uprooting vice in our lives and if we attend to the truth that we teach, we will save both ourselves and those who listen to us. Such is the promise of the Wise One who stood up to the condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees throughout his public ministry.
In today’s Gospel we witness the Lord Jesus defending the poor and powerless sinner who came to the feast given in his honor. This woman was full of love because she was full of gratitude for the mercy of God. She could not stop bathing the Lord’s feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. She did not stop kissing his feet or anointing them with ointment. Sinner though she was; she was repentant and had the wisdom to show great love to the one who showed her great mercy. Simon, the Pharisee, showed no sign of hospitality or affection to the Lord Jesus. He had no wisdom; he was only clever. He saw with his own eyes how bad the Lord looked when he was touched tenderly in public by a woman with a bad reputation. His concern for Jesus and his relationship with Jesus rested only in the superficial, the surface of things. He did not want to be condemned with his guest by all the other Pharisees. It was this very point of greatest tension between the host and his guest that became the teachable moment for Simon and the other table guests. Jesus, the Prophet and more than a prophet, could see into the heart of both his host and the woman sinner. In this inner court where God reigns the Lord Jesus speaks the truth we all long to hear–go your faith has saved you. You who have sinned much, repent and love much! You who have sinned little, repent and love much! Both of you need mercy, and both of you can go in peace because your faith has saved you.