'And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head.'
The eyes He turned on her who kneeling wept
Were filled with tenderness and pity rare;
But looking on the Pharisee, there crept
A sorrow and a hint of sternness there.
'Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee,'
The Master's voice rang clearly out, and stirred,
With its new note of full authority,
The list'ning throng, who pressed to catch each word.
'Master, say on,' self-righteous Simon said,
And muttered in his beard, 'A sinner, she!'
Marvelling the while that on the drooping head
The hand of Jesus rested tenderly.
'Seest thou this woman, Simon?' Scornful eyes
Did Simon bend upon the woman's face,
The while the breath of love's sweet sacrifice
Rose from the broken box and filled the place.
Self-righteousness, the slimy thing that grows
Upon a fellow-creature's frailty,
That waxes fat on shame of ruined lives,
Swelled in the bosom of the Pharisee.
'Into thine house I came at thy request,
Weary with travel, and thou gavest not
To me the service due the humblest guest,
No towel, no water clear and cold was brought
'To wash my feet; but she, whom you despise,
Out of the great affection she doth bear
Hath made a basin of her woman's eyes,
A towel of her woman's wealth of hair.
'Thou gavest me no kiss'-O Simon, shame,
Thus coldly and unlovingly to greet
The Prince of Peace!-'but ever since I came
This woman hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
'He loveth most who hath been most forgiven.'
O Simon, hearken, learn the great truth well,
No soul on faith's glad wings mounts nearer heaven
Than that which hath been prisoned deep in hell.
Methinks I hear her say: 'Thou who forgivest
My many sins, this off'ring, sweet of breath,
I pour on Thee, dear Lord, while yet thou liv'st,
For love is ever swift to outrun death.'
Upon her are the eyes of Jesus turned,
With gaze which seems to strengthen and to bless.
Who knows how long the soul of Him hath yearned
For some such token of rare tenderness?
The flush of shame flaunts red on Simon's cheeks,
About the table idle babblings cease,
A deep, full silence, then the Master speaks:
'Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace-in peace.'