CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 July 2019

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To sin is to suffer too

After journeying through Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Eastertide, St. Luke seems to be reinforcing the truth that God’s ways are not our ways. By aligning Simon, the Pharisee, with the woman and with Jesus, he helps us to understand the way in which God’s ways are different from ours.

Allowing a woman to come and share a meal that he had invited Jesus to was unheard of in the culture of the day and, even more so, as the woman was recognised as a sinner. As a result, for her to touch Jesus in the manner which she did, would have been considered to have made Jesus unclean.

Jesus does not challenge Simon directly, but through storytelling he guides him to a different type of understanding. In his explanation of why he allowed the woman to touch him in this manner, Jesus shows that the woman had been forgiven her sins and, because of this forgiveness, she loves much.

What does this mean for us? Many of us have no difficulty in taking the way of Simon the Pharisee in being quick to make judgements about others, but find it easy not to have a keen awareness of our own faults or failings. While we may well be proud of our own goodness, we are not always entitled to pass judgement on others, whom we judge to be not as good as we are.

As Christians, we claim to live our lives after the example of Jesus. However, unlike Jesus, we are more prone to judge others without seeing them as Jesus does, as in his approach to the woman, whom he saw as the person that she was capable of becoming and offered her gentleness and love.

This requires a profound change of mind and heart so that we can respond to the old saying, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” Desmond Knowles points out; “We too can experience the same peace and rest in Christ when we realise that forgiveness flows from lowering our defences and admitting our wrong-doings. God cannot help those who deny their sin.”

 

“I had a dream that I came to the Lord trembling, ashamed, fearful and sad. And I told him my tale of betrayals. When I had finished, I continued to kneel there, waiting for the punishment I felt I richly deserved. But what did he do? He rose from his chair, took some ointment, and said; ‘Let me dress your wounds.’ ‘What wounds?’ I asked, puzzled. ‘I’m the one who has wounded others.’ But then in a flash I saw he was right. I too was wounded, for to sin is to suffer. Astonished at his mercy, I let him dress my wounds. Afterwards I went away airborne with joy. His sheer goodness made me feel that I too was good, and made me want to be like him’” (Jesus, The Healer).