By Bishop Peter Stasiuk.
In St Luke’s gospel (7, 36-48) Jesus meets two very interesting people. One is Simon, a Pharisee. Jesus is at his home for dinner. Simon invites Jesus because he wants to find out who this popular man is. Simon is a Pharisee, a leader of the Synagogue. He has no friendly disposition towards Jesus. He actually might be interested only on how to keep Jesus quiet because he fears Jesus is a threat to the Jewish status quo. Simon is a defender of tradition and custom. Jesus seems to be breaking all of them.
Then there is the “woman” known only for that she is a very bad person of the town. She is a public “sinner”. Read “prostitute”. She is weeping and her tears wash the feet of Jesus. She anoints the feet with perfume and dries them with her hair.
Simon immediately shows his colours. He says “If this man were a prophet, he would know what sort of woman this is“ with great indignation.
You know the story. Her sins are forgiven by Jesus and Simon gets a lesson but does not change. He can’t. He knows the rules and laws. His God does not work in this way.
So many people in the church today like Simon figure that they know the rules, the history, the tradition. They may even know plenty about Jesus Christ and his church. They may defend the history, the customs, rituals, and tradition. They say many of the right words but despite that fact they know lots about Jesus and the church, they, as the woman does, do not know that Jesus brings forgiveness of sin, relief from pain, love, peace of mind, and salvation for the soul.
No, instead they come to church mainly for cultural reasons at Christmas and Easter. They find a security in the beliefs and practices of Christianity but fail to have a hands-on relationship with the person of Christ.
It is very important to the church that each baptized Christian knows, loves, and follows Jesus Christ faithfully and personally.
A lot of people have left the church and even Christianity, because they feel that the church has lost its way with all its own problems. All of this has its truths. But Jesus is still the Good News. Jesus favours the sick, the suffering, those without hope, the starving, those without love, homes, friendships, those who are abused or are in prison, in guilt, those enslaved by drugs, sin, and other addictions, and the rest.
Jesus invites us to know him as the woman did, not so much just about him as Simon. Jesus is seeking those whom he loves and asks them to love him. All of this starts with prayer and meditation. It starts and is nurtured by the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion on Sunday. It starts with our decision to make a commitment to God.