In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jocks. Nerds. Geeks. Of course there is a difference. Subtle, but to those in the know a distinction exists. The Populars. The clowns. The undesirables. And there were the ones like me, the squares. I was funny, but never bold enough of to be a clown. I tried my hand at athletics, but found I enjoyed refereeing better. My grandfather, Chuck, was the jock, who excelled at athletics. He played baseball and football, back in the day when helmets were made of leather and were optional. I was smart, but to my teachers continual dismay, Ian never "applied himself". I was on good terms with the social superstars, but always at arms length. Never invited to the parties I kept hearing rumors about. Being an only child, I assume because I had no older brother to teach me how, I never got into trouble. Well rarely got into trouble. I followed the rules, kept my nose clean, and thereby earned my entry into the squares. And that didn't change much in college, as for my birthday of birthdays—#21, my mom and grandma went out that night and got back later than I did. I was home by 10. They were out til midnight. True story.
I've always found it remarkably profound how quite naturally and instinctively we break off and classify ourselves into different groups by reputation. My graduating class from high school was only 42, yet we found ways internally to distinguish ourselves from one another. The jocks, nerds, squares like me, and even the undesirables were all to be found within our class. Though everyone "got along" for the most part, we were none the less separated, divided. Broken up by our patterns of behavior, our abilities, and the labels we gave to one another.
Luke gives us no background, no introduction into who she was, only that she was a sinful woman. And that her sin was well known to everybody. She had walked the streets in her shame as all who knew her, knew of her wickedness. Though not adorned with Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, she might as well had been. It was common knowledge, even Simon the Pharisee knew of her reputation. A man who would have gone at great lengths to avoid her—at least publicly to keep himself clean—now finds this woman of ill repute under his own roof, at his very own table. Her sin couldn't be missed, not by the commoners of the town and not by a prophet worth his salt. Her reputation was there for anyone and everyone to see, except by the One who saw none of it.
At His feet He sees a woman who looks more like David, than what Simon describes. An incarnation of the 6th Psalm, as her weeping used to make Jesus' feet wet finds its only counterpart in the psalm. O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD-how long? Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. As David "drenches" his couch with tears, she "drenches" Jesus' feet, raining down her repentant tears upon Him. In eyes anguished, hair matted, lavish kisses given, and myrrh outpoured. What everyone sees, Jesus misses. And what Jesus sees, no one else does. Thanks be to God.
They see nothing of her but sin and Jesus sees nothing but faith. Jesus does not condone the woman's life, but rather seeing into the depth of her heart, He perceives the faith and hope that are alive inside of her. A faith which takes her into a forbidden place to touch a forbidden man carrying nothing more inside her than a word that He is the one who can forgive sins. One who can bring the psalm's lament to completion in her own life, just as He did in David's. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
Needless to say her enemies are put to shame, as Simon receives noting but shame in his own house. At the dinner in honor of Christ, the Magnificat is fulfilled, The Lord has cast down the mighty from his throne and has lifted up the lowly. For being forgiven, she is sent away in peace and Simon is left with a "come to Jesus" moment, from Jesus himself. In order that he too might be lifted up, that he might see as Christ has. That he too might have faith, receive his own forgiveness, and be at peace.
We gather at this meal, in honor of Christ with our varied backgrounds, our sorted pasts, and our own reputations. We come as sinful woman and Pharisee. Yet we come to this place with the word of hope, that Christ not only sees our sins, but that he too will see our faith. Faith which deplores our state and weeps over our transgressions. Faith that moves us to seek him out where he has promised to meet us. Faith which offers our sacrifice of love and praise to Him. We come with hands out stretched and hearts open to receive from Him a Word and a Touch. This is my body. This is my blood. Give and shed for you. And by that very same faith we are healed. By faith we receive what He lavishly bestows upon us, mercy and forgiveness. We come as individuals, but at His holy table we are all made one. One with His Body, to be One body. Indeed our very life in the weekly liturgy is lived in the very story of the sinful woman. For as the woman left the meal and departed to her own home forgiven, we hear the very same words spoken to us as we depart. Go in peace. Serve The Lord. Thanks be to God.