I have been married for 27 ½ years, and throughout, I have marveled at my husband’s ability to be grateful for everything, literally everything! I’ll admit, I even found it rather annoying at times. When I would be all caught up in some temporal concern, he’d remind me that God gave us a beautiful day, even if it were raining, that we could take a deep breath, that we have a home, or so many other countless blessings. In these moments, I’d remain trapped in my head, as he was living freely from the heart. It took many years, but over time, slowly but surely, my perspective began to change. I became more aware of how God moves and the enormity of what He had done and continues to do in my life. My heart has become increasingly more grateful, and I am convinced that this awareness, this gratitude, is the great space-maker in the heart for a fuller capacity for Christ.
In today’s Gospel, we see this lesson of gratitude and its rippling effects. We see the sinful woman who seeks out Christ. Not concerned about what anyone thinks of her, she boldly enters the Pharisee’s home. Can you imagine the courage that took? Then begins perhaps one of the more touching intimate Gospel scenes. There, before the eyes of many who probably looked at her with disdain, she weeps, bathing Christ’s feet with her tears, drying his feet with her hair, and then anointing his feet with the costly ointment. What did this ointment cost her? What did this boldness cost her? Both everything and nothing. These actions were the fruit of deep repentant love and gratitude. It costs her everything as she abases herself before our Lord and all those observing; it costs her nothing because actions that spring forth from love, flow like oil from a jar – freely and generously.
Trapped in the Head
I wonder about Simon, this Pharisee who had invited Jesus to his home. While the Gospel does not say, I imagine that this invitation came of good will. Perhaps he was truly curious about Christ. Perhaps he thought he was being open-minded and decided that he could get to know him better to determine, by his own thinking, whether he was an authentic preacher. As he watches this scene, he filters it through the lens of his own intellect: “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”
Notice what the Gospel says next: “Jesus said to him in reply…” Simon had not spoken his thoughts aloud, yet Jesus replied. Jesus, knowing Simon’s head and heart, goes on to tell him the parable of the two men in debt, clearly illustrating that the more we are forgiven and acknowledge that forgiveness, the greater our gratitude! Simon, trapped in his head and unaware of God’s actions in his life, was unrepentant and therefore loved little.
The Gaze of Christ
“Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon…” Jesus had told the parable to Simon, but he now stops and turns to face her while still addressing Simon. No doubt, she was still on the floor before his feet. While looking at her, but speaking to Simon, He commends the great love she has demonstrated in her actions. What did his eyes look like as he faced her? What love must have emanated from His face straight to her heart!
Place yourself in the gaze of Christ. Imagine him staring straight into your eyes. Now, take a moment to consider, where am I in this Gospel scene today? Am I the sinful woman of great love? Am I Simon, still trapped in my own intellect deciding for myself what is good instead of asking our Lord? What has Christ done in my life?
Resolve to begin and end every day in gratitude. It is truly the great space-maker of the heart.