Sunday, September 18, 2016

Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50)

So he was the talk of the dusty streets.  Many had come to listen to this man of little education, a carpenter by trade.  I have to admit though, the things he has said must have come from God.  His words do not ridicule or chastise, as most of our laws.  His words are compassionate and the people, we take upon ourselves to lead spiritually, flock to him.

I saw him out in the fields, a few days ago, this man who does not dress like any of the temple leaders.  He holds himself with authority, wearing garments of the poor.  His followers claim he is more than just a man.  They say they have witnessed miracles.  Demons have been ripped free from tormented souls.  A paralytic has been raised to his feet and given the power to walk and dance.

I realize these claims may be exaggerations.  Still, I find myself, as do the others of my sect, drawn into the crowd with a desire to listen to his voice.

So when master Simon extended the invitation to share a meal at his home with the preacher, I had no choice but to attend.  There would be scribes and people of influence in attendance.  Joseph of Arimathea had stated his intention to go and listen to this man.  There are those among the leaders of the temple who see a teacher, such as this man from Nazareth, as a threat.  Still, there are others who feel much could be learned from him.  As I said, there are stories based on the claims of his followers, and there is the truth.  I am trapped somewhere in the middle.

And we shared a meal, an important custom among my people.  We break bread and we offer fine wine.  We share, as the God of Abraham instructed us to.  There was much that the Nazarene shared.  His insight into the minds and hearts of the people is quite astute.  I could see that Joseph and Simon were enthralled by his words.

They were discussing the commandments of God when the woman entered Simon's house.  Everyone at table knew what kind of woman she was.  She dressed the part and wore a gaudy scent.  There were whispers among the men as she forced her way into the room.  Have some of my brethren paid for her services?  I considered the possibility as she threw herself at the feet of the Nazarene.

"Rabbi, you should not let a woman like that touch you," the master of the house exclaimed. "Get this woman out of my house," he demanded, but no one moved to interfere.

The woman kissed the feet of the teacher, defiling him with her tears.  Then she used her long black hair to dry his feet.  At first I felt this display to be sickening, but the teacher didn't make any attempt to stop her.

"Rabbi," Simon spoke again, "you do not understand what this woman is.  She is a prostitute.  She corrupts you with her very touch."

"Please Simon, leave her alone," the teacher said calmly, before continuing. "Simon, when you welcomed me into your home you didn't wash my feet or give me a kiss of greeting.  But she has bathed my feet with her tears, kissed them and dried them with her hair.  She is forgiven... because of her great love... of every indiscretion, of every sin.

I felt the air leave the room.  The master of the house was speechless, as were the others of our sect.  The woman stared at the Nazarene, adoring him with a love, the likes one of her kind should not possess. "Go and sin no more." The words floated through the murmured voices of accusation.  Sins are not to be forgiven by anyone of flesh and blood.  Only God can forgive.

I turned in my seat and watched the woman leave.  She is a person, not so unlike myself.  But she has been cast out, segregated by the righteous.  Still, she is flesh and blood and we have spit on her, called her vile names.

As she turned and looked back, one last time, toward the Nazarene, I sensed a peace about her.  She touched this man, openly sobbed upon his feet and in turn he wiped her soul clean.  She had much to bring before God and received much in return.  How eagerly will we, the pious, offer our failings to God when we kneel at His feet.




copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr

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