How big is your debt?


man wearing white bathrobe sitting on bed

I suppose it’s possible we may fall a little short in the loving department, but God will understand, right?

In today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 7:36-50) there’s a neat little account of a visit Jesus made to a pharisee’s house.  Now remember, the pharisees were religious leaders who were a bit obsessive about dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” to the extent that they would put burdens on people.

So this pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him.  It’s interesting that although he asked him to come to his house, he was still a bit snarky when a penitent woman came in and started fussing over Jesus.  She started bathing his feet with her tears, kissing them and anointing them with ointment.  Like a said, seriously fussing over Jesus.

“If this man [Jesus] were a prophet,” the pharisee said, “he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

The woman was fussing over Jesus because she obviously had a sense of who he was and she needed a lot of forgiveness.  Jesus makes a point by telling an interesting story about two people who were in debt. (The “debt” in this case is really sin.)

Of the two people in debt, who is going to be more loving to the creditor who forgives the debt, the one who had the larger debt or the smaller debt?

Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  The bigger the debt, the more grateful, or as the gospel puts it, the greater love.

The pharisee did answer the question correctly, but he probably wasn’t expecting the response Jesus gave that convicted him of not showing “great love” towards Jesus like the penitent woman had.


Not looking so good in front of his observant guests, maybe he wondered along with them, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”  

Of course we know who Jesus is—the Savior of the world who comes for each one of us sinners!  His words to the woman are so comforting, even today:

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

I have to ask, are you the pharisee who invites Jesus into your home but is lacking genuine love and gratitude, or are you the woman who recognizes your great need to be forgiven by Jesus?

Janet Cassidy

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