After last week’s Gospel where Jesus cut through a taboo by touching the funeral bier carrying the widow of Nain’s Son, now we are presented with another taboo being broken. The woman washing, anointing and kissing Jesus’ feet was considered an outcast, a woman of scandalous reputation. Yet it is she, not Simon the host, who offers the proper greetings to an honored guest. Last week’s widow of Nain was in dire straits; for a widow to lose her son meant that she had nothing and no one to look after her and was thus thrown on the liminal charity (or not) of her town. The woman in today’s Gospel had already been cast to the margins of society by the self-righteous judgements of the community.
The lowly outsider, the liminal in society, is where Christ connects. Jesus touches or is touched. These Gospel events illustrate this great inner desire to be connected to God. Jesus does not reject an out pouring of love no matter from what source. This is good news for us since we are all sinners and the good Lord does not spurn our praises!
The Church teaches us that we should have a preferential option for the poor. We have millions in our society in general and many living amongst us in our local community. The poor are with us always we are told by Christ, and we must respond to their needs. Indeed the poor can be demanding and/or difficult to help at times for umpteen reasons but we must respond…and I know we do. Our Rosemary Hill Pantry, for instance, provides much needed food on a daily basis for many local people who bless us in their need. At the Catholic Charities Dinner last Sunday we heard of an amazing project, Showers for Christ, which operates in Santa Barbara. It is a mobile showering facility where the homeless can come and get a good shower and shave, etc., and a fresh set of clothes. [hmm now there’s an idea!] Yes, the poor are needy, and it is into their need (misery/suffering) that mercy must flow from our hearts; not pity, but Misericordia where our love flows from our hearts into the misery/suffering of the other and transforms it, because that is the dynamic of God’s redeeming grace for all of us.
God bless you, your families, and the week ahead.
Fr. Aidan Peter, CJ