Do you see this woman?

Whatever else you might say about Simon the Pharisee, in this story you have to admit that he wanted to get to know Jesus. Despite Jesus’ reputation among many of the religious leaders in Israel, Simon wasn’t afraid to invite him into his home. In this way at least, Simon is like us: we also invite Jesus into our lives to learn from him.

But today’s Gospel (Luke 7:36-50) shows us that Jesus isn’t the only one who teaches us about discipleship. When he asked Simon, “Do you see this woman?” he was inviting him to see the “sinful” woman from a different perspective (Luke 7:44). Rather than seeing her as a sinner, Jesus asked him to see her as forgiven and loved—as someone whose faith had brought her healing and salvation.

In that moment, Simon the Pharisee, a teacher of the Law of Moses, became the student of a woman with a tarnished reputation. When she anointed Jesus’ feet, she taught Simon—and us—about worshipping God in gratitude and humility. She taught that salvation and healing are possible for even the most sinful or the ones who are scorned by the “righteous.” She taught that the power of Jesus’ forgiveness is stronger than the shame of sin. And she taught that those who encounter Jesus’ mercy can be transformed by it.

We don’t know if Simon took all these lessons to heart. But we can be sure that this one moment, when he was looking at this woman through Jesus’ eyes, was a grace-filled opportunity for him to learn from her. It was a grace-filled opportunity for him to follow her example of worship, humility, and love.

Jesus can teach all of us in surprising ways. In fact, every day he offers us numerous grace-filled opportunities to learn from him through our relationships and our circumstances. So look out for those moments when he asks you, “Do you see this woman? This child? This opportunity?” Remember, Christ can speak through anyone. Even the ones you least expect.

“Jesus, help me to be open to learning from you in new and unexpected ways today.”

1 Timothy 4:12-16
Psalm 111:7-10
Luke 7:36-50


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