- First Reading: 2 Sam 12:7-10, 13
- Psalm: Ps 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
- Second Reading: Gal 2:16, 19-21
- Gospel Reading: Luke 7:36-8:3
Seems to be a pretty hot topic these days.
As a world, we need to ask for forgiveness for so many things. But do we? The gospel that we read today gives us a rather interesting answer to all that we need to be forgiven for and for all those whom we need to forgive. How do you make amends when you know you have hurt someone deeply or when you become aware that your patterns of life cause either harm or distress to others? That can be a very tough question. Actually, it isn't easily answered. Today's gospel captures a scene in which a woman who had been known as a sinner, and who had experienced forgiveness in other areas of her life, pours out her thankfulness and joy towards Jesus in demonstrations of love that we would find odd in today's culture and world.
"Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner."
As this entire scene unfolds in Luke's Gospel, Simon, the Pharisee, and the others are so confused that Jesus is permitting this woman to wash his feet with her tears and ointment. He turns to Simon and the woman and says, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been fogiven because she has shown great love."
Her sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. The others are sitting around, staring, in a big fog! Jesus then says to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Stunned. Faith saves? Love saves? Showing great love to others - saves? There is so much about this story and scenario that we do not know. The rest of the woman's story is lost to us. We don't know her name, where she came from, her age, or any other intimate details of her life. We do not even know why kind or "type" of sins that she committed. Was she getting ready to be stoned in her village for her sins? What I find to be rather interesting - is that in many, many stories in sacred scripture, it is women who are often cast in these "sinning" roles with Jesus. We have only one small slice of her life, a moment in which she goes into the house of Simon, to welcome people to partake in the scraps of a banquet. She finds other people reclining at table, reaching into the center to partake of the food, with their feet extending out into the room. She finds Jesus in the room, and in a goes over to him - she then mingles her tears with perfume and anoints his feet. She uses her hair to wipe Jesus' feet.
Who do we need to show great love to in our lives? Who in our lives needs their feet anointed with perfume, oil and to be washed? The entire gospel today reminds me of the washing of the feet that we celebrate on Holy Thursday.
Maybe during these summer months, we can take a look at who we need to serve better. Maybe we need to be awakened to the needs of immigrants and migrant workers, the poor, those who have no clothing or housing, those who lack access to education, or those who lack access to clean water.
Maybe we need to wash the feet of those who are on death row, or those who are unjustly accused of crimes that they didn't committ. Heck, let's wash the feet of those who did committ crimes. They are in need of healing and reconciliation too.
Maybe we need to serve those who can't help themselves - those who are in hospices, end-of-life-care, nursing homes, and those lives who can't defend themselves - for whatever reason.
Maybe we need to better take care of our planet, and all those around the world who inhabit her.
This week, and through out the summer months, let us ask for the grace and wisdom to suspend judgment and to perceive the good work and grace that God is doing in others.