Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr
1 Timothy 4:12-16; Psalm 111:7-10; Luke 7:36-50
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. (Luke 7:37-38)
This story of the sinful woman’s encounter with Jesus is probably one of the most graphic, stirring narratives in the Bible. Try to imagine yourself right in the middle of the story, as one of the others reclining at Simon’s table with Jesus. Try to see what they would have seen.
The conversation is riveting. Jesus is explaining the kingdom of God, and then—she comes in. A brazen sinner. An outcast. You feel a little sullied just being near her. But as you wonder why she has barged in uninvited, you notice that she’s holding something, and her face is stained with tears.
She’s been crying. Her searching glance goes from face to face, but the moment her eyes meet Jesus’ gaze, she trembles and begins sobbing uncontrollably. Now she’s stooping low as she lets her tears drop onto Jesus’ bare feet, and she dries them with her hair.
Does Jesus know who is touching him? She tenderly anoints his feet. Tension fills the house, and right when you feel someone must say something, Jesus speaks. He’s not outraged, or even annoyed. Instead, he actually looks happy! Through the short parable he tells Simon, you begin to realize that Jesus is accepting this woman. He really is happy! You see that her tears are a mixture of sorrowful repentance and gratitude at being accepted by Jesus. Softly he tells her, “Your sins are forgiven… . Go in peace.” You wonder, If Jesus is happy to forgive her—is there anyone he won’t accept?
No, there isn’t! Jesus accepts you too, and with great joy. He knows exactly who you are. He has seen all of your sins. He knows that we all should be outcasts—no more deserving of heaven than this sinful woman. Yet if we just come to Jesus as she did, it is Jesus’ great pleasure to welcome us into his kingdom. It is his pleasure to tell us, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”
Today, give voice to your gratitude and love for Jesus. Thank him for ushering you into his heavenly home. Let your worship and praise pour out, anointing his feet and filling all of heaven with its fragrance!
“Thank you, Jesus!”~WAU