Every Meal is a Story
Story 2: An Invitation to Forgiveness at Simon the Pharisee’s Dinner.
Read Luke 7:36-50
We are looking at 10 meals shared around the table in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus breaks bread with all sorts of folks where they live in order to teach simple truth. For a deeper experience using this material please let me suggest the following:
- Find a Sacred Space where you can remove yourself from distractions.
- Read the passage from Luke through once and sit with it. Read it again and listen for a word or phrase the Spirit helps you notice. Read it a third time and respond to what you heard in prayer.
- Read the blog and finish with the REFLECT and PRACTICE ideas.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.Luke 7:36-38
Berenice leads a ministry to rescue women from the sex trade in a European port city. She offers hospitality and refuge in a van outfitted with movable-seats so they can sit and talk, drink coffee, eat together, and hear the good news. It is dangerous and exhausting to find opportunity and place to offer love and rescue.
A few friends and I went along with Berenice one night to a dark industrial area to visit the women and offer hot coffee and hope. They sat in wooden chairs on creepy corners as men drove up and down the streets looking for their services. Danger was heavy in the air as their mafia pimps were always nearby. Even though we were obvious outsiders, we greeted and served at a dozen corners. After connecting with one woman, I offered to pray for her. The tall and beautiful woman from an African nation immediately knelt down on the rugged concrete street in her short dress and stockings, and bowed her head. With this staggering humility and beauty at our feet, we prayed for mercy and grace, for her family back home, as she asked, and blessed her in the name of Jesus.
At the home of Simon, a respected religious leader, inclusion and hospitality was not offered to the woman whose lifestyle depersonalized and damned her in his eyes. In fact, Simon doubted the authority of Jesus as a prophet because Jesus allowed this woman, “a sinner” to touch him. Thankfully Jesus had a lot to say about this injustice:
“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”Luke 7:44-50
In the culture of the day, people reclined on couches around a table as they ate dinner. The woman was therefore able to assume a position of humility “standing behind him at his feet” to demonstrate her devotion. As one who experienced radical love and forgiveness, the woman was comfortable in gratitude at the feet of her Savior.
Simon’s judging attitude prompts a response from Jesus: “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“From the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet.”
Jesus takes the opportunity to teach those sitting around the table:
“I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Those who follow Jesus in radical discipleship welcome one another without judging. When we come together as community, we are all equal in discipleship at the feet of Jesus, forgiven for past and present sins against God and each other.
“Who is this who forgives sins?” It is Jesus. “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”
Reflect: Jesus had something to say to Simon and he eagerly answered, “Say it, Teacher.” Sit alone at the feet of Jesus. Allow him to “say it to you.” Accept his great forgiveness and love for you personally. Then ask Jesus to show you any practices of exclusion or dehumanizing attitudes you may have adopted from our culture of quick judgments and self-righteous stands. Where can you offer grace and hospitality?
Practice: Jesus took advantage of participating in a shared meal to offer love and grace and to speak truth and justice. Take some time to plan at least one meal a day, or special meals on the weekend, that can be life giving to your family or friends. It’s really important to move from the couch or breakfast bar to sitting together around a table. The position you take at the table and intentional healthy conversations and meals are essential for peace and well-being in relationships.
HOW TO GRIEVE AROUNG THE TABLE. According to the Mental Health Foundation, there are psychological and social benefits to sharing a meal, such as increased feelings of contentment and security. It also brings a grounding opportunity where anxieties can be expressed and feelings heard. Listening to others during dinner time can also instill and deepen qualities such as empathy and understanding. See the full article at Edible: