Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Today’s text

Luke 7:41-50

A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

Don’t forget the truth

Tears are always telling. They reveal the heart. Look at the woman weeping at Jesus feet, washing them with her tears, kissing and anointing him with oil.

These are not tears of sorrow or a shower of shame. They are the tears of one who tastes the height of human fulfillment and joy. Passionate love that cannot be contained flows from her heart as from a lake into which a great rain has fallen.

She feels the Great Love who is God filling and flowing through her. Dissolving all shame and fear, it busts the narrow confines of her heart and spills from her eyes, her hands and feet. She becomes a truly human soul for the first time.

The woman is a portrait of the ecstasy and loving freedom God intends for every human being. In Jesus, she experiences forgiveness and the Love who is beyond (and within) all loves, welcoming her home. She enters a world of grace where she is held and encompassed by the Love who labors in all things, in every time and place, every moment and speck of matter.

Those like Simon, the Pharisee, cannot enter this world. They cannot ascend to the heights of fulfillment known by the woman weeping at Jesus feet. They will never be as alive, wondrous and beautiful as she. Comfortable in their respectability, they do not ache for forgiveness and the welcome of God.

She hungers, welcomes and believes that Jesus’ grace is the truth of her life, the ultimate truth of all life. Surely, she did always believe this. Until she met Jesus, she likely believed she was what others said she was—tainted, sinful, unacceptable, an outcast. She knew she didn’t belong among those invited to the party of life’s better things.

There are many who believed this about her. She internalized this identity, believing the lie that she was something less than beautiful, a soul of infinite worth, the apple of God’s eye, beloved for all time.

So many believe this lie, internalizing the identity and value projected upon them by others … or by their own internal demons, and this is who they become, acting out a part they were never meant to play.

But not this woman. Forgiven, she is given back … herself … and becomes the beauty and love, the grace and gratitude the Loving Mystery created her to be. She becomes a vessel of the Love who has neither beginning nor end.

She believes Jesus’ forgiveness—not Simon’s rejection-- is the ultimate truth of her life—and ours. Refusing the life-killing lie, she enters the joy of those who know they are beloved of God. Her faith saves her, sets her in right relationship with God, and opens a world of grace.

So it is with us. With needy hearts and eyes opened by Jesus’ forgiveness, we see and recognize the grace that finds us even in odd and unexpected moments. Late one recent afternoon, I sat in a café, glass of red wine in hand, looking up Washington Street near my office. Cars worked their way up and down the rain-washed asphalt on their way home.

I’d just had another birthday, and my mind wandered across decades of a startling life in which I have seen and felt things I never thought I’d know. My musing moved me to love and gratitude—and eagerness to bless my waiter or anyone else who happened by.

I knew what the woman at Jesus’ feet knew. All that I am, all that has been and will be is encompassed by God, held by the Love who forgives and lifts me, the Love who saves me from myself and my sadness over the failures and frustrations that too often imprison my heart.

No one needs to tell me to love or to pray in such moments. Love and prayer flow like tears from the weeping woman: “I give you thanks, O God, that you come to again and again to me with the grace of forgiveness, welcoming me home.”

This Love is the ultimate truth of our life … of all life. Knowing this Love, we become truly human souls. This is the way it is: The Loved … love.

Pr. David L. Miller

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