5 Easter, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 56, 57,  (morning) // 64, 65 (evening)
Wisdom 9:1, 7-18
Throughout the gospel narratives, people are always trying to measure Jesus by their standards, expectations, and prototypes. Is Jesus the Messiah? I he a prophet? Is he divine? Luke’s gospel is especially concerned with Jesus’s prophetic status. In today’s gospel passage, a Pharisee thinks he has a slam-dunk case against Jesus as a prophet.
The Pharisee reasons like this: When he sees Jesus allowing a woman to bathe his feet with her tears, and to kiss his feet and lavish them with ointment, the Pharisee thinks that Jesus has no prophetic insight whatsoever. The Pharisee says to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him.” No prophet would allow this “kind of woman” to touch him.
It turns out, though, that Jesus uses his prophetic powers in a completely different way than the Pharisee anticipated. Instead of using prophetic knowledge to identify and keep his distance from sinners, Jesus prophetically discerns and challenges the judgmental spirit within others. Jesus tells the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you,” and he tells a parable illustrating that those who have been greatly forgiven have a greater capacity for love.
Last Thursday, St. Paul’s was exquisitely blessed to host Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, to help launch a sister program in Fayetteville. This ministry will offer hospitality and sanctuary, as well as education and training, to formerly incarcerated women with histories of sexual exploitation. Like the Pharisee in today’s gospel, so many people see these women as condemned and untouchable (except as commodities or targets of violence). But with Jesus as our prophet, our motto is, “Love Heals.”
In today’s gospel, the Pharisee thinks that if Jesus only knew what kind of woman this was at his feet, he wouldn’t let her touch him. But Jesus, the true prophet of God’s people, must have thought, “If this Pharisee only knew what kind of woman this was–full of love and poised for healing–he would have welcomed her as his guest as well.” May Jesus the prophet help us to see such love, potential, and power among God’s people.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.