Luke 7:36 – 8:3
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Here is the key question.
Where can she go?
She is marked as a sinful woman. An outcast from society. Even if she were to step away from her lifestyle, there is no way she would be enfolded back into the community around her.
The next section of scripture intimates an answer.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases:Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
Here we see a glimpse into Jesus’ community.
It’s likely she went with Jesus. On the move, bearing witness of the kingdom of God.
He gathered people who because of their wounds were longing for community.
We had our monthly Community House meeting yesterday. I shared this story and then we talked with one a other about the wounds that have drawn us into community. It felt a bit risky, but I really wanted to draw us into deeper and more vulnerable sharing with each other.
Of course I’m not going to tell you their responses, but I can tell you a bit of mine.
What are my wounds? The ones that have drawn me into community life (living in an intentional community house)?
One of them is what I consider an almost pathological need to be competent. I need to be the strong one, the one who holds it all together. The one who can figure things out and find the way forward.
I had a revealing and difficult conversation with a friend the other day whose observation of my life was that I’ve created a neat little world around me where I can be in control.
I don’t know that I agree with their perspective fully, but I can see seeds of truth in it.
Maybe I got stuck at an early phase of development. I can hear the inner toddler in me cry “I can do it all by myself!”
And I can’t, of course. Life is too hard, too complex. With demands beyond my capacities.
So I need to be in community.
In one sense, it’s a very practical need. With six of us sharing responsibilities in the house, I only have to cook once a week and do 1/6 of home maintenance. That frees me up big time, for other responsibilities.
It also goes deeper. I need truth tellers, people who look beyond the public persona and see me, real and unvarnished. Who gently show me my blind spots. Who love me in my weakness. Where I can be safe and reveal my vulnerabilities.
To be the weak one.
I’m still absolutely terrible at it, but I know this is a good place for me to learn and grow.
My wounds brought me here, and I trust the presence of Jesus amongst us will heal us all, bit by bit.