One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him – she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak…”
…Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon “Do you see this woman?” – Luke 7: 36-40, 44
The Gospel of Luke is my favorite Gospel. Luke paints a picture of a savior who is a friend to the marginalized (the poor, the sick, the blind, the lame, the women). When I think about trying to be more like Jesus, the image in my mind is that of Luke’s Jesus.
One of my most treasured experiences in translating with Baja Missions happened last year when I was able to counsel a woman who’d had no choice but to finally vocalize her extensive history of physical and sexual abuse, as all of her issues came to a head the week we were there. I was able to listen to her story as she tearfully relived a painful childhood – made ever worse by having grown up in a culture that has minimal respect for women in general. She opened up to me, we prayed together, and then set up a kind of “treatment plan” with the preacher’s wife.
The good news is, by letting it all out and agreeing to continue to see a counselor at the local department of human services, she began to heal from her trauma.
The bad news is, she’s not alone; her story is not isolated.
One of the ladies in the ladies’ class this past trip to Baja (about 3 weeks ago) put it like this “in our culture, we’re so used to not being that important, that it is hard for us to think and talk about our past lives and our past mistakes.”
Thankfully, the theme of the week for the ladies’ class was “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” The idea of the class was to encourage the women of the church in Erendira to use their gifts for nurturing, encouragement, ministering to each other and the preaching family and to challenge them to join together as sisters and hold each other up. (While they do that, the rest of us will keep praying for social change).
During the week, we talked about pasts. Everybody has a past and everybody has to decide what to do with their past: learn from it, grow and use it to encourage others, or stay stuck in the past and let it eat them up from the inside out.
Each night, they learned more about the ways in which Christ beautifies, validates, loves, and sees them.
Do you see these women?
Maria, an impoverished widow and grandmother to Rosita, who despite health issues and her Spanish language limitations (doesn’t speak a lick, she speaks an indigenous tongue) always has that smile on her face when I see her.
Their pasts are behind them, as they seek to move forward and embrace their identity in Christ:
loved, valued, beautiful, seen.
And Jesus said to the woman “your faith has saved you; go in peace.” – Luke 7: 50