1 Corinthians 15:1-11
What must it have been like in Jesus’ time to be "the sinful woman?" Can you imagine how painful it must have been to have your worst action, the most vulnerable part of your humanity, be the name by which you are known and called? You are not Judith or Rachel or any other name, but the whore, the prostitute, the sinner.
The shame must have been indescribable. Perhaps the sinful woman hardened herself in order to withstand the judging looks and spiteful comments; maybe she protected herself with cynicism or feigned arrogance or even aggressiveness. Maybe she hid in the shadows.
We don’t know any of that for sure, but we do know that in the presence of Jesus the woman wept like an innocent child. A world of hurt poured out as she bathed his feet tenderly with her tears, wiping his feet dry with her hair. How much she must have cherished the one who did not judge her, did not objectify her, did not view her as a "thing" to be cast out, but as a person who is loved-and forgivable-in God’s eyes.
This is the Savior we believe in; the One who does not recoil or remain remote from us in our brokenness, but who looks into our hearts with compassion when we approach. Our life may be in tatters; we may be holding onto our faith by a fingernail, but we are welcomed by a God who is intimate and loving and unaffected by the world’s harsh judgments.
Which brings me to "a certain Pharisee." Ultimately, reflexive judgments, harsh criticisms and growing fears are isolating, damaging and painful, too. May God help us trust and find in others the same goodness we want God to see within us. May we be forgiving and forgiven. May we all go in peace.
Nancy Nickel is director of communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.