Today's story about the harlot who is moved to express her gratitude toward Jesus. It is set at the scene of a dinner at Simon the Pharisee's house. This would have been more of a public affair than the dinner parties we hold today. It would be more akin to a neighborhood backyard barbecue, where others may gather as a more informal affair. Therefore, we have a woman who has come ready to anoint Jesus - she is ready in that she has brought and alabaster vase with perfumed oil.
|Feast of Simon the Pharisee|
by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1618
Her devotion makes us assume that she's had some previous experience with Jesus of which we are unaware.
As Simon begins to criticize Jesus, we see Jesus turn it around to make it about Simon's lack of hospitality as opposed to her graciousness rather than her sinfulness. She ends up forgiven while he's on the outside looking in.
Simon as a Pharisee would have been well-acquainted with the hospitality of Father Abraham (see Genesis 18:1-16). Rather than follow through with this as an example, Simon fails to be a good host.
Good hospitality is all the rage at local churches right now. As we self-assess, we have found that we've too often been more like Simon rather than the harlot. Our problem is that we haven't really embraced the stranger as Jesus no matter what Matthew 25 says. The Benedictine Rule, "let everyone that comes be received as Christ" is good for churches, homes and society in general.
How will you respond differently the next time you encounter Jesus?