Wed Quote - Jurgen Moltmann - “God allows himself to be humiliated and crucified in the Son, in order to free the oppressors and the oppressed from oppression and to open up to them the situation of free, sympathetic humanity.”
Wed Thought -
The odd thing about this weeks story is Jesus' offence. He is offended that the Pharisee didn't greet him with hospitality. Let's recall what Jesus says to him. It was yesterday's scripture reading, 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. ' The thing is, while washing the feet of guests was a common practice, that was a slaves job. The host, in this case the Pharisee, wouldn't have actually performed the foot washing. Neither am I aware of any social custom of anointing the head of a guest. I suppose that Jesus could have been offended that the Pharisee didn't arrange to have a slave available to wash his feet. But I have to admit, it still seems that Jesus is being a bit sensitive here. So what it is exactly that Jesus is sensitive about or sensitive to? Is it the way that the Pharisee has treated him personally, or could it be something else?
In order to answer that I would suggest we think again about the intimacy of the contact between the sinful woman and Jesus. Not only does she wash his feet with her tears, but she anoints them with perfume. In the original greek text she anoints Jesus not simply with perfume, but with myrrh. This is a spice used to prepare the dead for burial. Not only is Luke telling us a story which illustrates the holiness that God desires of us, the holiness of hospitality. Luke is also telling us a story about the mission of Jesus. The sinful woman recognizes who Jesus is and what he has come to do, while the Pharisee doesn't. The sinful woman recognizes that Jesus has come to die.
The intimate contact between the sinful woman and Jesus, the nature of this contact, and anointing with spices used at burial, all support Luke's theological point for this story. Jesus is God incarnate. But that incarnation takes on special meaning because Jesus is God incarnate with the vulnerable, the shamed and the sinful. Jesus is offended because the sinful woman has been treated with disrespect. Even more, Jesus experiences her disrespect and shame as his own, as directed at him as well. Or, as Matthew has Jesus teach in Matthew 25, 'whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Inhospitality to the sinful woman is inhospitality to Jesus, the incarnation of God. Shameful rejection of the sinful woman is shameful rejection of the son of God.
So this story does not only redefine holiness and show the importance of hospitality but also defines and describes the importance of Incarnation. The incarnation is not important to us because it is a display of God's power. It is important because God put incarnation to use by placing that life that incarnation in intimate connectio with the lost and the least, the shamed and degraded. These are the ones whom God choses to come to earth to be present with. What's more, we learn an important lesson about Jesus's death. Jesus is willing to honor his identity as one of and solidarity with the despised and rejected to the point of death. Jesus's death is meant to inspire in us a courage to accept the risk of joining with the shamed even when that costs us our safety, our security, our social status. He could have opted out of those consequences, but he chose to stay one with the shamed even when it meant crucifixion, pain and death. So the incarnation, according to Luke, shapes us into human beings living in solidarity with those who suffer and who are shamed. The crucifixion and resurrection shapes us into people willing to live in solidarity with those who are shamed and unsafe, even when that could negatively impact us. It is from this perspective that we will decide what is right and wrong, what is good and bad. By joining with the shamed we live out God's holiness.
Wed Study - Matthew 25:31-46
Wed Prayer - Plant within me today, resurrected Christ, the holy seeds of courage. Remind me that you not only said, 'come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest,' but also '"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.' Give me the courage to take up my cross today. I trust that you will give me the gift of rest when I need it. And I pray that as I carry my cross, that will bring rest and peace to all the heavy-laden I meet today.