Imagine having Jesus Christ as a guest at your table. You are a guest at his table every time you participate in the Eucharist. But imagine if Jesus came to your home for dinner. Would you put on airs? Would you like Jesus to see only your good side? How real would you be?
In the Gospel this Sunday a Pharisee invites Jesus to dine with Him. This is the Gospel Pope Francis proclaimed on March 13, 2015 when he announced the Year of Mercy. It is a beautiful story mainly because of the uninvited guest.
A woman arrives unannounced. She is known in town as a sinner. People looked down on her and this was particularly true of the Pharisee who is hosting this dinner. The woman captures everyone’s attention when she washes the feet of Christ and dries them with her hair. Her action is bold and dramatic but also very humble. She is attracted to Jesus because she sees mercy in Him, not condemnation. With the forgiveness of Jesus she begins a new season in her life and is able to take a new responsibility for love. She will love much because she has been forgiven much.
Are you like her? Are you able to admit your sinfulness and your need to receive the forgiveness of Christ? I know confession is not very popular today but – when was the last time you received the forgiveness of Christ in confession? Just talking to Jesus by yourself can be a copout. You don’t have to be accountable to anyone. The Sacrament is an encounter with Christ. The priest is simply a minister of Christ, a sinner himself. He is not better than you or above you. But he is commissioned by the Church to let you know that you are still loved by Christ even though you have sinned.
The Pharisee invites Jesus to his house but he is not interested in getting to know Jesus and appreciate him. Whatever his motives, he does not even show Jesus the customary respect in the traditional signs of hospitality. He also distances himself from Jesus by his judgements. If Jesus were really a prophet he would know who this woman was. And, secondly, he judges the woman as an outcast and a sinner. Are you like him? Do you put others down by gossip and judgement? Jesus Christ would be happy to come to your house for dinner. He often met with sinners and dined with them. Why not invite Him and, when you do, be real. Tell Him the truth about yourself. Be honest and humble. Come to think of it, isn’t that what going to confession is all about? Allow God to surprise you.
May the Lord give you peace.
Photo of window at Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick,Charlotte, North Carolina by Nheyob.