17 September 2020

Could you do that?


24th Week OT (R)

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

St. Dominic Priory, NOLA

Given our middle-class manners and overall commitment to modern standards of hygiene, to say nothing of our recent descent into collective germaphobia, I'm betting that we'd have the Sinful Woman arrested and placed on a 72hr psych hold if she pulled this stunt nowadays. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't recognize her bizarre behavior as adoration much less a plea for forgiveness. And even if we did, we might be tempted to look around for a camera, suspecting that we were unwitting participants in a piece of political theater. Regardless of our specific reactions, can we honestly say that we would've react any better than the Pharisees did? While they were motivated by jealousy of Jesus' power as a religious figure, we might be motivated to react because. . .? The woman is embarrassing herself in public? She's disrupting a polite dinner party? Being wasteful? Or maybe b/c she's showing us how lacking we can be in showing our Lord honor? Her overt and very public display of reverence seems. . .excessive, emotional, shining a judgmental light on our own unwillingness or inability to express piety worthy of the Lord's love. I wonder if I could do what she did w/o any taint of irony in my heart. That I wonder such a thing speaks to decades of cultivating pride as a defense against appearing excessively religious to others. Thanks be to God that you and I have her witness to remind us that sometimes a display of affection can also be a plea for mercy.



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