by Andrew Consiglio - Leader and Director of Youth Fellowship
There is no pit that is so deep that God is not deeper still
(Corrie Ten boom)
This is where it all starts from. We need to experience this as a reality in our lives even in our sufferings. In this way, we find the power and grace to show mercy and forgiveness to others. You may wish to watch the Hiding Place.
Both Simon and the woman are in need of mercy because like all of us they are SINNERS and SUFFERERS
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
But there is a third reality. We are not just sinners, or sufferers but also SONS AND DAUGHTERS.. However, because Simon could not see himself as the first two, he couldn’t receive the gift of the third.
His problem? Simon chose distance over relationship. After all, he had invited Jesus to the banquet so he had some INTEREST in Jesus like many people do.
But interest is only a beginning, it is not enough. It doesn’t guarantee relationship and encounter. His interest was ‘checking Jesus out’ rather than allowing ‘Jesus to check him out.’
Simon invited Jesus into his house but not into his heart. He is closed to the truth because he is closed within his own self-righteousness and is scandalised by the fact that Jesus allows the woman to touch him.
He even misses the cue: First he says ‘if this man was a prophet he would have known what woman this is’; immediately after Jesus shows He knows who the woman is and who Simon is, though the Pharisee seems to remain blind to it.
In practise, we are all in desperate need of God’s mercy. Recognising this as a fact and acknowledging our sin is vital for receiving the mercy of God.
On the other hand, mercy is received by the woman (she is not Mary Magdalene) who allows no barriers to come between her and her need as a sinner and a sufferer.
She gate-crashes the banquet and goes straight to the centre where she kisses Jesus’ feet. She also did something that in their culture Simon was meant to do. As Jesus’ host, he was meant to use water to wash Jesus’ feet because of the dusty streets. The woman does this instead with her tears. Simon must have felt very embarrassed.
Because she shows her wounds, this woman now experiences the third level: what it means to be a son/daughter. She let Truth judge her instead of inverting the roles and ‘judging the Truth’.
He does not love us with words. He comes close – closeness – and gives us His love with tenderness. Closeness and tenderness! (Pope Francis)
In practise, are we ready to do what it takes to repent, to turn away from sin and to receive the mercy of God? to change our schedule and plans, humble ourselves in confession, seek out a mature Christian to pray with us, spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and so on.
In the parable Jesus highlights that the person who receives mercy is able to show love back. The woman breaks open the vase and pours out her whole life to the Lord. Her faith saves her because she has confidence in the Lord’s mercy.
Jesus tells her ‘Go in Peace’. Now imagine for a moment that the woman left the place and met someone who had hurt her or wronged her. Do you think she would have forgiven? For sure!
When we begin to live in the grace and mercy of God we take seriously what Jesus tells us to pray in the ‘Our Father’: ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matt 6:14-15
Corrie Ten Boom showed the mercy we spoke of in the second talk of this ‘Hesed’ series, at the risk of her and her own life – by showing compassion and serving the persecuted Jews by providing a safe shelter.
But she says another story that she found even more challenging than hiding the Jews in the Hiding Place. She was giving a talk to a Christian group in Berlin and afterwards a man went up to her. She recognised him as one of the cruelest guards at the concentration camp, who had even played a part in the death of her dear sister Betsy. He explained to her that he had since become a Christian and was very sorry for what he did. Putting out his hand, he told Corrie ‘will you forgive me?’ Everything within her said ‘No I can’t’. But she turned to the Lord and prayed ‘Jesus, help me!’ As she said ‘yes I forgive you’ and held out her hand, she experienced the love of God in a way she had never experienced it before.
Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart (Corrie Ten Boom)
So always remember – There is no pit that is so deep that God is not deeper still.