There are times when moms can learn from their children and recently it was my turn for a life lesson. My daughter Sara and I chat almost every morning on her way to work about all sorts of things like our jobs or life and of course my beautiful grand girls. Last week as we discussed our weekend plans she mentioned that she had volunteered to babysit her friend Jane’s three children so that she could visit her father, who is in the Intensive Care Unit three hours away. Sara told me that she had offered to babysit for her friend as she could only imagine how difficult it was for Jane to not be able to visit her ailing parent. Having three young children, two with special needs, her friend said it was difficult to find anyone to care for her children. That is until Sara. This daughter of mine is someone who “sees” people. She often notices when people are in distress or have a need and finds ways to help them without prejudice. When she was in kindergarten she came home from school without her gloves. Let me just say that it was winter in MN with very cold temps and typical deep snow on the ground. When I asked her what happened to her gloves, Sara said she gave them to her little friend because he didn’t have gloves and his hands were cold. When I mentioned that I was concerned about her hands being cold, she just shrugged and said he needed them more. This story gives you a glimpse of who Sara is as a person.
Back to the story of dinner at Simon’s home and the woman who attended to Jesus’ feet with her tears, unabashedly kissed them and anointed them with expensive lotion. In their culture feet were the dirtiest part of the body so it was a servants duty to wash the guest’s feet prior to serving food. All this attention to Jesus’ feet, by a sinful woman, made the religious leader, whose name was Simon, very uncomfortable. I think his discomfort was twofold. The first reason was that this woman came into his home and did what his servants did not do, clean the Lord’s feet. Second was the woman herself. As mentioned above, she was known as a “sinful” woman and to Simon’s way of thinking if Jesus knew who she was he would not have wanted her to touch him in the least. Keep in mind that most religious leaders or people in power struggled to understand Jesus's desire to care for the unloved or the people on the fringes of society. Jesus recognized Simon's prejudice and in a loving but direct way he asked Simon a simple question: “Do you “see” this woman?” (Lk 7: 44). What kind of question was that to ask the dinner host? It was obvious that Simon and all of his guests could see her and yet Jesus found it plausible to ask the question. I believe that was the point of his question. Jesus explained it like this:
“I came to your (Simon) home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal” (44b-47).
This unwelcomed woman came to Jesus knowing that she was broken and in need of his grace and love. By her actions she openly admitted that she needed and wanted his forgiveness. It is worth noting that Jesus forgave her sins without a word from her. The woman did not confess her brokenness but her actions spoke louder than her words. Jesus “saw” her for who she was and in her humility was known by the Savior. Simon who had much in the way of home, friends and religious knowledge failed to understand that he was not better than the woman. Like many others he misjudged not only the woman but Jesus too. She came in her brokenness while he set himself apart as a prominent leader of a certain status. The woman left Simon's home assured that she was forgiven and carried with her these words from Jesus: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace,” (vs. 50). Simon was left to ponder Jesus’ words without satisfaction.
So my question is simply, are we more like Simon or the woman? Do we really “see” people like Jesus and Sara? I will confess that there have been many times when I have looked around people in need because I thought I was either too busy or had nothing to offer them. Jesus was never too busy to see people along the way in his busyness. Sara often takes time out of her day to recognize the children or teachers at the school where she works. As I said at the beginning of this piece, moms can learn lessons from their children. For this mom, I believe every one of us can be like Jesus who saw people; noticed their needs and gave all he had for us. We can also be like Sara and give someone our mittens because they need them more than we do.