Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
September 19, 2019
Today, in Mercy, I would like to share a piece from a book I am (slowly….) writing:
The scene is heavy with color, sounds, scents and movement. The summer sun has begun its long descent through the western sky, filling the garden with orange light and umber shadows. Simon and his household make final preparations for the arrival of Jesus. The dining area is meticulously set in the arbored courtyard, the klinai or dining couches angled so that Simon may have the full consideration of Jesus once the supper begins. The scent of roasting lamb drifts from a nearby spit, incensing the entire space with heightened appetite. Slowly, the scene fills with the ancient Gospel characters, each carrying his or her own hungers to the table.
What is it that Simon the Pharisee most craves from this momentous opportunity to capture Jesus’ attention? He is a man of intellect who rationalizes that Jesus should respond in a certain way to the approaches of a sinful woman. Would his hunger have been satisfied had Jesus met this prediction? Or was a deeper hunger challenged when Jesus defied Simon’s expectation, inviting him to a fresh relationship with his own heart?
What spectrum of hungers comes with the many guests at this dinner? Are the disciples longing for Jesus to successfully argue his theology with this prominent Pharisee? Are the other guests hoping to have their allegiances – whatever they may be – proven by the evening’s conversation? And Jesus himself, what hunger does he carry to the diverse gathering of his Father’s children? What yet unmet hopes for his ministry might he long to feed on this special evening?
But there is one among the many whose hunger is obvious. At first unnoticed by the party, she slips in through the open hedge, advancing toward Jesus with a natural grace even the greatest wealth cannot bestow. Her lustrous hair falls freely down her long, slender back. She is bejeweled and bangled with the ornaments of her trade. Her face, though beautiful, reflects the weight of her desperate loneliness and forced self-sufficiency.
She is a woman no longer with pretense. The entire town already has cast her in a mold she will never escape. She has come as she is to the feet of Jesus, presenting her unadorned hope in an alabaster jar.
As we begin our prayer today, what hungers do we take to the feet of Jesus? Let us lift the alabaster jar. Let us decant the ointment of our prayer. Let us anoint our lives.