Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Then Jesus took him up and said, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' He replied, 'Say on, Master.' 'There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?' Simon answered, 'The one who was let off more, I suppose.' Jesus said, 'You are right.' Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.'
Do you see this woman?
Simon doesn’t. He doesn’t see that giving yourself away in love is the reason we exist.
He doesn’t see himself as a receiver of the wonder of divine love. The woman does, and that makes all the difference in the world.
He thinks he needs little from God and therefore receives little. He imagines he is less in need than this creature weeping at Jesus feet, and therefore he is much less than she is.
She is a truly human soul, but he has not yet arrived at this elevated state. And he will never arrive until he realizes he is in as much, no, greater need than she is.
His heart will not come to full flower, like hers, until he is filled with the awareness of God’s love touching, lifting, cherishing … him.
Until then, he will not … and cannot see. He can see neither himself, the woman or anything else because he sees not as a receiver of life but as one who imagines himself a master of life and living, who is a cut above the common run of humanity.
Only those who receive divine love, those who know their need, who receive each day, each moment, as the gift it is--not as an entitlement--are freed to live in love.
True life and joy begins in receiving. It is the simplest truth of all. Nothing could be more obvious. But so few see it.
At the beginning of our lives, we are utterly helpless, dependent on others for everything. We are a burning center of insatiable need, and others care for us or we die.
We are receivers and learn to love, to smile, to show joy and appreciation in connection with those who love us enough to make sure that we have what we need.
This doesn’t change even though we imagine that we need less as we are more able to care for ourselves. Even then we are utterly dependent on the love and care of others who make this world work, and we are utterly dependent on the secret, the magic, the spark that makes our bodies live, something that even our best science is yet to explain.
We receive this… every moment, whether we are aware of it or not. Every breath, every moment is a gift of life we simply receive.
Some lovingly cherish each gift of life, breath and love. They are truly human souls, who see.
Pr. David L. Miller
Monday, June 10, 2013
One of the Pharisees invited [Jesus] to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee's house and took his place at table, suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses 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 this woman is and what sort of person it is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.'
What do you see?
A woman with a bad reputation or a human soul who loves extravagantly? A histrionic display or an unshackled heart?
A generation ago Billy Joel sang that he’d “rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” Jesus agrees with Billy. So do I.
When the saints, like this Pharisee, focus on properness and purity they are no fun and uninteresting. They are also blind to the only things that matter, loving, laughter and life.
And the Spirit of God is nothing if not the Spirit of life, laughter and love.
The Divine Spirit sets the heart free from its narrow constrictions to risk looking ridiculous, over-the-top and foolish for the sake of the love that bubbles at its core.
The Pharisee, Simon by name, lives comfortably within the constrictions of proprieties of law and convention, but I’d rather hang out with the woman who cried at Jesus feet and wiped them with her tears.
God knows, she’d make me nervous. I’d squirm in her presence because at age 60 there is still too damn much of Simon in me.
I learned social niceties quite young and was told the ‘nice people’ do the ‘right things’ don’t have bad reputations, and ‘good Christians’ are polite, respectful and don’t engage in unsettling emotional displays..
I should have known immediately that this was nonsense and had nothing to do with Jesus, but I guess I am a slow learner.
The woman would shame me, too. The free flow of her heart, shedding tears onto the feet of the soul who had healed her soul, reveals the hesitance of my heart, my tendency to hold back and be cautious. Such hesitancy resists the Spirit’s urge to praise and sing, laugh and weep at the crazy giddiness of the gospel of God’s illimitable love.
It also obscures the beauty and joy that would flow through me (and you) just as certainly as it does through this woman.
Weeping, pouring her heart onto Jesus feet, she is a compelling portrait of a soul set free, a heart come alive. She, not Simon, is the model of true humanity.
She invites us to throw our cautions to the wind, forget our self-protective proprieties and let ourselves feel … and express … the crazy love that is the Spirit within, hungry to be set free.
Pr. David L. Miller