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On Openness – Br. David Allen

Lk. 7:36-50

Today’s Gospel is a story about contrasts.  We heard in Luke’s Gospel this morning that a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to eat with him.  A woman of that city came to that house with a jar of ointment and stood at Jesus’ feet, weeping and washing his feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair and anointing them.We do not know why Simon invited Jesus to come to his house to eat with him.

We can only assume that he wanted to hear what Jesus had to say, or to debate with Jesus about what he was teaching and doing.  We know that many of the Pharisees did not accept what Jesus taught.  It could have been that Simon wanted to show that he was open to having Jesus in his house.  Was it a politically correct thing to do? Jesus was popular among the ordinary people.

We know from the story that the woman had not been invited to the meal.  Those who were there knew her as a sinner.  She came because she knew that Jesus was there.

How would any of us have felt in Jesus’ place?  Remember that we are looking at it with 21st Century eyes. This was a different cultural context from ours.

When the Pharisee, Simon, saw what the woman was doing he immediately thought, “Surely this man cannot be a prophet.  He would have known that she is a sinner.  How can he let her touch him?”

Jesus perceived what Simon was thinking. He asked him, “Which would love more, someone for whom a great debt had been forgiven, or a small debt?”

Jesus then reminded the Pharisee that the usual courtesies had not been offered him when he entered that house.  Instead Jesus pointed to the acts of thankfulness and affection the woman had done for him. She had washed his feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, anointed his feet, and kissed them.  Knowing how love had overcome her past, Jesus forgave her sins, and said to her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

This is a story about openness; the quality of faith and forgiveness.  How open can we be to others? How forgiving? How loving?

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