As we look to the scriptures we see a very familiar setting, a person who is known by all to be a sinner and all sit in judgement upon her. We are immediately moved to compassion to see this poor woman so quickly judged by all around her. They only see her as the town prostitute, and fail to see her identity as a daughter of Abraham, a child of Israel. Our Gospel comes from Luke,
As I reflected on the scripture with inmates where I serve in a part of the prison ministry I was reminded of the words of Pope Francis early in his Pontificate when He said, whom am I to Judge? We live in a world a society where we very quickly become judge, jury and executioner passing judgement on others not truly knowing them, their hearts or their personal story. With modern technology and the ability to glace around the world in an instance we see an image and a situation and we judge it accordingly. We fail to see that even in a video clip, or a photo we fail to have the full story.
Simon in his thoughts questioned Jesus’ identity and authority when a women who would have been considered unclean and a sinner touches Jesus. Simon, who himself was at one time an outcast, and considered unclean as a leper, passes judgement on the woman who like himself, touching causes another to become unclean.
Jesus is not concerned about these observations and criticism, he wants the love and mercy of God to be shown to this women. In Jesus questioning of Simon, it is clear that Simon had failed to offer the basic common signs of hospitality to his guest. He failed to greet him with a kiss, he failed to wash his dusty feet from his journey to his house, he failed to give him oil for anointing. But look in contrast to the woman she washes his feet with her tears, never stops kissing them, and anoints them with perfume, a precursor to Jesus anointing at death.
But the key to this account of God’s Mercy is Jesus words to the women. Her sins are forgiven because she has shown great love. So often people pass judgement upon us, they write us off as “bad”, “wrong”, immoral and out right just evil, without knowing us, knowing where we’ve come from and what we’ve gone through, they’ve sized us up and written us off as unworthy of love, attention and caring support.
We meet people everyday that we judge, maybe they are different because they suffer from addiction and substance abuse, strung out there and we avoid them, we judge them and we see them as insignificant. Then there are those who have an accent and look different from us a different color, or different religion or simply love different then we do and we judge, condemn and write them off.
It is time for the Catholic Church to truly be the one place all can feel welcome, no matter how they look, dress, speak, love or believe. The church must meet people where they are as they are and be willing to authentically love them. To much back peddling because we feel, Oh no, I’m caring for someone whose on the peripheries, someone seen as different what will they think of me? This is not a relativist attitude, that anything goes, but rather it’s an understanding that all persons in the most basic level of their humanity must be seen as having value and being loved. No matter what! It is only in encountering the people of God, encountering those who are on the margins that we can open a way that will lead them ultimately to Jesus.
Simon failed in so many ways to show the very one who restored and healed him, compassion. He passes judgement on both Jesus as not being who he is, and denies the woman the possibility of forgiveness and love. Jesus turns their notions of goodness, and righteousness around and breaks it down to the most basic common denominator “LOVE” “her many sins are forgiven because of her great love.”