Often Enough

Luke 7:36 – 8:3  – The 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, June 16, 2013

“One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him…” (Luke 7:36)

Drum roll.

Trumpet fanfare.

Applause.

The Gospel of Luke and its affiliates proudly present:

THE PHARISEE AND THE WHORE*

These are the players . . .

  1. Simon, the Pharisee.
  2. Jesus.
  3. An unnamed whore**.
  4. And those at the table.

This is what happened . . .

  1. Simon asked Jesus to his home for a meal.

    How 'bout if I just dress up in this Pharisee costume? At least I could rent one for special occasions . . .
    How ’bout if I just dress up in this Pharisee costume? At least I could rent one for special occasions . . .
  2. The whore arrived uninvited and bathed Jesus’ feet with ointment from an alabaster jar, her tears and kisses.
  3. The Pharisee was ________*** by the woman’s actions. Simon wondered if Jesus knew a sinner’s hands had touched him.
  4. Jesus regaled his dinner companions with a tale about forgiving sins. And to cap the evening off, Jesus noted Simon had treated him like dirt, while the whore honored him.
  5. Jesus, after the story within the story, forgave the whore’s sins.
  6. Those at the table grumbled and Luke’s chapter ended.

So what came next for Simon the Pharisee, Jesus, the whore and those at the table?

* I’m not happy with the title. It needs more oomph.

** Luke’s Gospel refers to her as “a sinner.” Maybe she stole bread from the farmer’s market or cheated her boss out of money or worked on the Sabbath. Then or now, there are many ways to sin. But, if only to enhance the story’s drama, to add a whiff of titillating sex like in a bad Hollywood movie, I’ll call her a whore. It’s fine with me if you prefer her as a thief or cheater.

*** Luke doesn’t toss in a nice juicy word or two to reveal how the Pharisee felt. What do you think? Was the Pharisee . . . amused, disappointed, offended, irked, flabbergasted, angry or aroused?

*   *   *

The Pharisee in Luke 7’s verses troubles me.

I’m troubled by the Pharisee’s actions, and by what may come next for the person who invited Jesus to his table, because I’m a “religious authority,” a modern day version of a Pharisee. Long, long ago, when a United Methodist bishop gingerly rested his palm on my head, and declared me ordained, I began to read the Bible with different eyes.

I’d be foolish if I didn’t. Continue reading →

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