Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

I was invited to a wedding reception and was seated at a table with seven other people. We were thrown together, or purposefully put together, thinking we could develop an engaging conversation. I knew other people at the reception, why not put me with them? When putting together a seating chart, I think it’s best to put people together who are comfortable with each other, and to put someone who might not know anyone else at the reception, at a table with people who might draw them in, so to speak.

Actually, the conversation at my table went way off course when the topic of politics came up, and this was pre-Trump. The atmosphere became quite tense when one of the people assumed everyone at the table had a particular viewpoint that was shared by all. It wasn’t so. After dessert, I politely excused myself and ran away.

Dinner receptions can be very uncomfortable for a number of reasons and the dinner in today’s gospel provides us with a most unusual and awkward dinner party. All was going well, Jesus reclining at the table in the home of a leading Pharisee, enjoying the food and, perhaps, even the conversation. But things went south very quickly when an unnamed woman of questionable reputation crashed the dinner party and went behind Jesus as he reclined and proceeded to weep. She did the unthinkable, the shocking: she bathed his feet with her hair!!! This seems pretty sensual and shocking to me, even in today’s standards!!!

Jesus gently admonishes his host for thinking his judgemental thoughts and shocks this Pharisee even more when he tells him that he knows all about this woman of ill repute.... and loves her even more for what she did. Dinner receptions can bring out the best or the worst from those who attend, host and guests included. The woman who crashed the party, uninvited, was transformed into a most welcome guest at Jesus’ banquet of mercy. You are invited to this sumptuous feast, just leave out the judgments.

Fr. Frank