Today is the 5th Sunday of Great Lent, when we commemorate our holy mother, St. Mary of Egypt. Before speaking about her, let me begin with something a little different that will illustrate the difference between Simon the Pharisee and the sinful woman that we heard about in today’s Gospel.
When I was a teenager, I became the best of friends with another young man who was my age, and I spent most of my free time with him. This young man was known for being a very negative and critical person. My parents were not happy about our friendship, fearing the negative influence he would have on me, and they sometimes expressed their concern, but I would hear nothing of it, making excuses for him. One of the primary effects of that friendship was the terrible habit I developed of gossiping about people and slandering those whom I did not like. At first, I joined in with the desire to be liked and accepted by him, but later it became a part of me, whether I was with him or not. This friend and I would spend hours upon hours nearly every time we spoke, mocking and deriding other people, laughing at their expense, blinded by our pride and self-love, thinking we were better than everyone else. Deep down, I knew this behavior was wrong, but after several years of indulging in this sin, when I began to repent and change my way of life, this deep-rooted passion proved very difficult to uproot. I still remained very judgmental because my efforts to change were half-hearted.