By Sarah Stanley

“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.”

This passage in Luke is one of my absolute favorites because of this simple, yet stunningly powerful statement.

We are told next to nothing about this woman. From the text we can gather that she is from the local community and that

she, like all of us, is a sinner. She is left unnamed and she does not speak.

But as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. And it is through her actions, through her outpouring of love demonstrated by washing the feet of Jesus with her tears and anointing them with an ointment (one that likely cost beyond what she could afford) that she is saved.

This unnamed, voiceless woman takes action and demonstrates great love. She loves deeply and acts upon that love in an outpouring of service, placing herself at the feet of Jesus. And it is because of this expression of generous and courageous love that Jesus says to her,

“Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Her faith both inspired and required her to love and to love not passively, but actively. A faith that seeks to be close to Christ in acts of love is what I understand Paul to be writing about in our second reading today. In his letter to the Galatians (in a rather circular manner I might add) Paul articulates that to just follow the law is not enough. “…A person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.”

Don’t worry, Paul is not arguing for complete anarchy here.

He is not suggesting that we throw out all laws or refuse to acknowledge to them. Rather, he is calling for action beyond just “works of the law.” He is calling for the community to follow the example of the woman from Luke’s Gospel. He is calling the community to love--to love deeply and to love greatly.

I don’t know about you, but I often fall into the trap of critiquing and weighing the value and depth of acts of love, specifically my own.

Did I love enough?

Could I have given more?

Surely I missed something.

I could do better.

And maybe that’s true. There are certainly situations that I look back on where I could have been more generous, more compassionate, more loving. Hindsight is 20-20, right?

But our faith is recognized not through the grandeur of our actions, but through our choosing to act and choosing to love how we can.

Loving greatly comes in many shapes and forms, and as Blessed Mother Theresa reminds us, “Not all of us can do great things but we can all do small things with great love.”

“So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.”

Keep choosing to love friends--and love greatly.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SARAH STANLEY

Hey there! I'm Sarah, a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Jesuit and is very passionate about faith, social justice and the intersection of the two. I'm in the third (and final!) year of earning my Master of Divinity Degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. When I'm not surrounded by piles of school books I enjoy travel, running, contagious laughter, clever puns and finding the good in all things.

Check out Sarah's blog at simplysarahs.blogspot.com


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