[Written for the Sentinel]


When shadows fell across CapernaumAnd peace lay gently on the fragrant air,Came one who knew the time of rest was nearAnd sat him down for meat in Simon's house,Where, as he slowly supped, there fell a stirOf wonder, and a pause. A woman came,Not of the caste who sat at Simon's board,But of a group debarred by Jewish lawFrom mingling with the Pharisee,—indeedAn outcast to be shunned,—and stood behindThe couch where Jesus rested. FearlesslyFacing the sneers and jibes of those who watched, She brought to light an alabaster jarAnd broke the seal, pouring the fragrant oilUpon the feet of him who was the Christ,Weeping the while, and washed them with her tears,And dried them gently with her flowing hair.

Now when the Pharisee who sat as hostBeheld the deed, he questioned in his heart:Would not this man, were he a prophet, knowThe touch of her, a sinner? So he frownedAnd would have bade his servants drive her out.But Jesus read his thought and, unafraid,Rebuked him with a chosen parable,To show that he who loves much is forgivenMuch, and that the Son of man has powerTo pardon sins, washed in humility.The contrite Magdalen he comforted,And bade her go in peace. But Simon, stillPondering, could not find a word to say.

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