Third Sunday after Trinity 16.6.13 Luke 7.36-8.3

9 06 2013

Reverse Hospitality

The events at the home of the Simon the Pharisee show what happens when Jesus encounters human vulnerability and fragility. When they are owned they are healed. When they are not, they are exposed. In both cases God’s transforming love is shown.

Luke 7.36-8.3

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.’ 40Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’ 41‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ 43Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ 44Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ 48Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ 50And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

8Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What does it mean (v39) that ‘she was a sinner’?
  2. What sort of forgiveness is given here?
  3. What do the first three verses of chapter 8 add to this reading?

Heart Questions

  1. What is your emotional response to the anointing?
  2. What is the tone of the relationship between Jesus and Simon the Pharisee?
  3. How did the woman feel in the three phases of the story?

Hand Questions

  1. Great things can happen when there is hospitality: how can you be more hospitable?
  2. How can you sow greater generosity of spirit?
  3. Is there any way you can help release someone from the burden of their sins?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.

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5th Sunday of Lent 17.3.13 John 12.1-8

12 03 2013

Judas and Mary

This simple account of an all-too-imaginable incident can take us to the place of deep devotion, or make us recoil with horror at the meanness of human nature. Maybe we need to do both.

John 12.1-8

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. ‘Six days…’ v1 what is the significance of this? Why is the story so precisely located in time?
  2. ‘Three hundred denarii’ v5 How much is that? On what other occasions is a large quantity of money mentioned in John’s gospel?
  3. Why do we always have the poor with us?

Heart Questions

  1. Imagine you had seen Mary do this. How would you feel?
  2. Can you imagine wanting to do just what Mary did?
  3. Is there a Judas inside you somewhere saying ‘tut-tut’?

Hand Questions

  1. Whom could you give a dinner for?
  2. Whom might you anoint?
  3. Is there anyone who needs some special attention from you before they die?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.