By Tom Widlund, United Methodist of Woodland
In Luke’s Gospel we find Jesus eating a lot. It essentially goes from meal to meal. I think he would love Woodland, with all of its great restaurants. Jesus loved a good meal and a good feast. IN Luke’s Gospel, he dines a lot in restaurants. Sometimes he dines with powerful politicians, those who have religious power, those who are considered outcasts, and those who are considered unclean. When invited, he accepts the invitation and dines with those who invite him.
On one of these occasions, Jesus dines with someone with great religious power and great authority. It would have been a dinner for the crowds, for those with wealth and for those with great power. The power to do harm and the power to change the world. During this dinner, a woman bursts in. The text says that she was known to be a sinner. We really don’t know why they called her a sinner, but it goes without saying that she had a reputation. This person, considered a sinner, bursts in and anoints Jesus’ feet. Her pain and her wound flow into this wonderful act of love expressed to Jesus.
Of course, the religious and powerful host of the dinner catches fire about it, but Jesus does not. Jesus confronts the host and asks, âDo you see this woman? Â»DO YOU SEE THIS WOMAN? NO! The host did not! He only sees what he wants. He only sees what people say about her or what her actions or the actions of others have caused in her life. He only sees his tragedy. He sees only a violation of his home, of his cleanliness, of the space of his religion. He only sees himself. He doesn’t see her! He doesn’t really see her.
Jesus, on the other hand, does see her. He sees her pain, her pain and her love. He sees her humanity, he sees that she is a child of God who suffers and needs love. He sees her. He really sees her. All the religious could see was what they wanted to see, a sinner. Someone unclean and unworthy of his care and respect. In many ways, they didn’t really see. Jesus saw her, her eyes were open to the reality of who she was and what she had been through.
The challenge this leaves us all is a challenge to behold. Whether or not you are a person of faith does not matter in this discussion. We all have a hard time seeing people really and truly. We see what we want to see. We see the sinner, we see the reputation. When we walk through Woodland and encounter homeless people, we often only see what we want to see. We don’t see people with real wounds, with real pain, and with real struggles. We do not see that these are people, that they are moms, dads, children, grandchildren and people who are in a difficult situation.
In politics we see Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, but we don’t see people. What if we started to really see people? To look beyond the labels and see them. What if when people screamed for help, we really saw them? Instead of feeling like people’s problems are just an intrusion into our world, as the religious of Jesus’ day did, maybe we could look deeper and choose to see them.
This week maybe stop seeing people through the eyes of politics, religion, tradition, social media, reputation and really see them. Look, see, then act. Therein lies the challenge. Once our eyes are opened to someone’s reality, we are often compelled to act. Life is easier when you only see the exterior, the reputation and what you want to see. Seeing beyond it can cost us dearly and can complicate matters, but seeing is the way of love and the way of grace. Seeing is the way of Jesus and it is one of the ways to really move our society forward beyond so much pain that we see around us. Go out this week, open your eyes and see the people.