In today’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus accepted an invitation to dine with Simon, a Pharisee. During the meal, a woman, known to be a sinner, bursts into the house, bringing an alabaster box of precious ointment. She knelt before Jesus, weeping, and washed his feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. Simon and his guests were deeply shocked, disturbed and embarrassed, but Jesus remained perfectly at ease. He sees that the woman is expressing sincere repentance, and great affection. Jesus says her sins are now forgiven. She was loving Jesus so much that she could no longer be a sinner. Her immoral past was now totally irrelevant.
Wrong-doers can so easily be stuck with labels, often for the rest of their lives, irrespective of how they have changed. But God does not work that way. He deals with us as we are, here and now. What we did before does not matter. All that matters to him is what we are doing now–how we are relating to him, and to those around us, right now. Once again, we see how God, in Jesus, always wants to rehabilitate us, not to punish us. Punishment destroys God’s desire that we all be made whole, and experience his loving forgiveness, inner peace and harmony.