Presented by: St. Ephraim Syrus
A Sinful Woman
Jesus was invited to a banquet. As a sinful woman heard of this invitation she rejoiced. She realized that she bound herself to pain with her sins. She lamented herself,
“What did I profit of my fornication? I disgraced the innocent. I ruined the orphans. I robbed the merchants’ money rudely. However I was not satisfied. Like a sea storm, I made many ships sink. Why don’t I gain a Man who’s able to reform me? For God, who reform sinners, is one while the devils are many.” She had shower, erased the make-up which blinded her eyes and wept. She put off her impure clothes and jewelry intending to put on goodness. She took her jewelry and looked to heaven crying silently to Him who hears her carefully, “This is the profit of my sin; with it I will buy my salvation.”
She took her jewelry and went sorrowful to the ointment salesman. When the seller saw her asked her wondering, “Isn’t it enough for you to contaminate the whole city. Why did you put off your impure clothes and pretend of being modest? You used to come to me in fine clothes bringing with you some jewels to buy expensive perfumes. However, today you’re coming with ordinary clothes bringing much gold. What happened? You should either put on fine clothes for you are rich or buy perfumes that suit these ordinary clothes. Are you going to meet a merchant who doesn’t like fornication thus you want to deceive him by these modest clothes? If he’s pure, I pity him. He’ll be destroyed. I advice you to desert all your lovers and choose for yourself a groom who will reform you.”
What the seller said was wise. She answered, “Don’t hinder me. I won’t take the ointments for free; I’ll pay for it. Take the gold which will not last and give me the ointment that will last for the Immortal One. I’ll meet a rich merchant as you said. He’ll rob me of my sins and I’ll rob him of his richness. As for marriage, I’ve a heavenly groom. His kingdom is forever.”
She took the ointment and left.
When the devil saw her, he grieved much. However, he was glad as he saw her taking the ointment yet, he was afraid because of her modest dress. He followed her closely. He listened to her murmur. He examined her eyes to see where she was going. The cunning devil knows our purpose by means of our words.
Being unable to change her thought, he appeared to her as a man and a group of young men looking like her old lovers. He said to her, “Where are you going, lady? Why are you in a hurry? Why are you so meek like a slave? You’re wearing a simple dress instead of the luxurious ones. Instead of the jewelry, you don’t even wear a ring. What do you intend to do? Did one of your lovers die and you are going to shroud him? Let me go with you to the tomb and share with you your grief.”
She answered, “I’m really going to bury a dead. My sinful thought is the one who died.”
He said to her, “Enough of that nonsense, I’m your lover. I’ll give gold more than before.”
The woman answered, “You’re not a lover of mine. My groom is in heaven, God, whose kingdom is forever. I say frankly and never lie; I’ve been a slave to Satan since my childhood. He treaded me under his feat and I in turn ruined many. I was blind not knowing that He’s the one who gives sight to the blind. I’m going to Him to gain sight, to be myself light for many.”
Satan grieved and cried loudly, “You conquered me O woman, I don’t know what to do.”
Being unable to change her thought, Satan lamented himself, “From now on I will lose my greatness and pride. How can I trap her who chose to be high? I’ll go to where Jesus is as she is about to be there. I will tell Him that this woman is an adulteress so that He may despise her. I’ll say to Him, “This woman has corrupted many men while You’re righteous and many people gather to see You. If they saw You talking to an adulteress, no one will accept You.” But how can I go to Jesus who knows all hidden things and who I’m? He knows my bad intention; He’ll probably rebuke me and all my tricks would then fail.
I’ll go to Simon who doesn’t know what’s hidden and say to him, “Tell me about the Man you’re entertaining in your house. Is He righteous or a friend of sinners? I’m a rich man and I want to entertain Him like you to be blessed by Him.”
Simon said, “Since I saw Him I found no impurity in Him but serenity and peace. He healed the weak and the sick for free. In the wilderness, He saw the multitudes hungry so He seated them on the grass and filled them with His mercy. The lonely widow followed her son’s funeral to the grave but He consoled her and restored his life to him. He healed the dumb, the blind and the leper with a word. I heard about Him, so I invited Him to bless my possessions and my sheep.”
Satan said to him, “Don’t honor someone so rashly. He seems to be respectable and not liking wine. If He left your house without talking to an adulteress, He should be righteous then.” Satan said this cunningly and stood at a distance to see what would happen.
The woman stood at the door praying, “Lord, don’t reject me as You’ve called me. As You don’t despise me, open to me the doors of Your mercy to refuge to You. Protect me from Satan and all his army.”
As Simon saw her, he said to her, “Go out O adulteress for, He who’s here is righteous together with all His followers. Aren’t you ashamed of your sins? You won’t be able to trap this man for, He’s righteous.”
The woman replied, “You’re really the host but you don’t know what’s hidden. I’ll present my case at the banquet and nobody will blame you if you let me in.”
He dismissed her. Jesus called for Simon and said, “If there’s anybody at the door let him in. If he’s hungry, thirsty or sick he’ll take what he needs and go. Let sinners come to Me for, I came to carry them to heaven.”
Simon let her in. she came in and stood at Jesus’ feet praying, “My tears are like springs washing the feet of Him who seeks the sinners. Would You allow me to wipe Your pure body with my heavy hair? Would You allow my impure lips to kiss Your feet?”
As Simon saw that, a thought leapt into his mind, “What’s that? An adulteress enters my pure house! If I’d known this, I wouldn’t have invited You Jesus. You deceived me. He isn’t righteous as I thought. If He’d been a prophet, He’d have known that this woman is an adulteress; He wouldn’t have let her wash His feet with her tears and kiss them with her lips.”
Knowing his thoughts, Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” Simon was ashamed of himself as he was blaspheming Jesus; yet, Jesus talked to him gently as a man talks with his friend. He replied, “Teacher, say it.”
“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii,
And the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.
Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He returned to the woman and said to
Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet,
(you aren’t hospital as you should be)
But she washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head,
(see what she deserves).
You gave Me no kiss, (see your enmity).
But this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in, (see her love).
You did not anoint My head with oil, (see your negligence).
But this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil, (see her zeal).
Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.
But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Then Simon thought, “Your sins are forgiven! Who forgives sins but God?
Who is this person who knew that the woman is a sinner but her love is great. He knew even my thoughts. He must be more than a prophet.
I judged Him rashly yet He talked to me gently.
I blasphemed Him secretly and He is now revealing Himself to me.
He is the Lover.
He forgives sins.
He knows my thoughts and secrets.
He is the God of the prophets.”
A Conference for the Tools
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