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The sinful woman September 30, 2011

Posted by daniel ayad in Biblical.

Repentance is a necessary step to be saved from sin. There are several interpretations about what repentance exactly is, but essentially repentance means admitting your sins and fighting to stop committing these sins. It’s like walking in one direction and then suddenly turning 180 degrees and walking in the opposite direction.

One famous story that comes to my mind to show repentance is the sinful woman who was forgiven. “Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” (Luke 7: 36-38)

The woman was a sinner, big-time. She was an adulterous who ‘defiled innocent ones without shame[1]’. People who lived in the area, such as Simon, said that she corrupted the whole town[2]. However she repented. She decided to turn away from this way of life and direct her steps to the heavenly life.  

She began to change her outward appearance. She washed away her eyeshadow, which blinded her. Tears gushed forth from her eyes over her seductive makeup. She took off and cast away the enticing bracelets and jewellery of her youth. She took off and cast away her clothing of fine linen and the garment of prostitution. She resolved to go and clothe herself in the garment of repentance and reconciliation. She took off and cast away her decorated sandals[3]. She turned 180 degrees.

It is not exactly clear what made this sinful woman repent. We can speculate and say that her sins, in the end, made her feel greatly ashamed and embarrassed. Sin definitely hurts in the long run, even if you do not realise it.

I recall a story to illustrate the shame that sin brings:  

When St Ephraim first came to Edessa, he supported himself by working for the owner of a bath-house. A harlot lived near his home. Once St Ephraim caught her looking at him through the window. She expressed her desire to lie with him. The Saint told her, “If you wish to lie with me, then go to the place which I shall indicate.”

            She replied, “Show me the place, and I will come.”

            Saint Ephraim said, “If you have chosen me, you cannot lie with me in any place other than the middle of the city.”

            The woman was shocked and said, “Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to do so before all the people?”

            Saint Ephraim then instructed her saying, “If we are ashamed before men, how much more should we be ashamed before God, and also fear Him, Who knows all the secrets of men? Know that He will judge the whole world and render unto each according to what he has done.”

            When the harlot heard these words, she was moved to repentance. She came to him and fell at his feet saying, “O servant of God, guide me to the path of salvation that I may be delivered from my many evil deeds!” Saint Ephraim instructed her in the Holy Scriptures and sent her to a convent to work out her salvation.

Sin binds, grinds and blinds a person. Repentance frees a person from being a slave of sin. The sinful woman mentioned above, whose name is not mentioned in the bible, realised the benefits of turning 180 degrees. Others too, such as St Augustine, St Moses the Black, Saul of Tarsus and St Mary the Egyptian followed this life changing transformation.

People that become Christians, ultimately become better moral people. Their lives change for the better for themselves and those around them.  They are no longer embarrassed or ashamed for the lives they now live. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor 5:17)

This positive transformation must have motivated the sinful woman to wash the feet of Christ with her tears and wipe them with the hair of her head. She even anointed His feet with expensive, yet beautiful fragrant oil.  

Nobody is beyond the reach of God. God can reach anybody, at anytime, simply because He is God. Those that show any willingness to turn to Him will always be accepted, even if they corrupt a whole city. “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:20)

Let us repent with this woman saying “Blessed Son, Who descended to the earth for the sake of man’s salvation, do not close Your door in my face. You have called me and, behold, I come. I know that You have not rejected me. Open for me the door of Your mercy, that I may enter, O Lord, and find refuge from the evil one and his hosts! I was a sparrow and the hawk pursued me. I fled and took refuge in Your nest. I was a heifer and the yoke burdened me. I will return to You. Lay upon me Your yoke, that I may take it on me, and work with Your oxen.” [4]

Also at the midnight prayer we say: ‘Give me, Lord, fountains of many tears as You did in the past to the sinful woman. Make me worthy to shed my tears on Your feet which took me to the right path and offer You the best of perfumes. Grant me to live pure and repentant, so that I can hear a joyful voice: ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace’  ([5]Luke 7: 50)

This woman’s repentance is valued so highly that we also remember her before we partake in Holy Communion. ‘As You did not stop the adulteress from kissing Your feet, please do not prevent me from coming near You to receive Your Holy Body and Your Sacred Blood[6].’

The repentance of this sinful woman is forever remembered in our Church. She offered sincere, heartfelt repentance and really turned her life around. Despite the fact that her name is not mentioned, there is no doubt that her name is mentioned in heaven.

[1] St Ephraim the Syrian, For she loved much, pg 24, 2010

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid., 33

[5] Agpia, second service of the Midnight prayer, pg 131

[6] Ibid., prayer before Holy communion, pg 151


1. bishoy - September 30, 2011

Great Post!

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