Sybil 2004

Gospel text

Luke 7: 6 - 8: 3

36 One day, one of the Pharisees invited him to eat. After entering the house, he laid down to eat. 37 And behold, there was a woman, known in the whole town to be a woman of evil life, having heard that he was lying at table in the house of the Pharisee, and having taken with her a vessel of alabaster perfume, 38 and standing behind his feet and crying, began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet and smeared them with perfume. 39 Seeing the scene, the Pharisee who had invited him said to himself, "If he really were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is the one who is touching him, that she is in fact a woman of evil life. 40 Jesus said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you. "Master, speak," he said. 41 "A funder had two people who had borrowed money from him. One owed him $ 35,000, the other $ 3,500. 42 As they had no money to pay, he exonerated both of them. Which of them will love him the most? 43 Simon replied, "I guess it's the one he's exonerated the most." Jesus said to him, "You have judged well". 44 And turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not pour water on my feet. But she, she wet my feet with her tears and wiped me with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss. But she, since my arrival, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You have not perfumed my head with oil. But she, she coated my feet with perfume. 47 This is why I say to you: She has already been liberated from all her waywardnesses, because she loved very much. He to whom we forgive little, will not like much". 48 He said to the woman, "You are already liberated from all your waywardnesses. 49 Then the guests began to say to one another, "Who is he to liberate people from their wanderings? 50 Talking to the woman he said, "Your faith has set you free. Continue your journey in peace.

8, 1 Afterward Jesus went about the towns and villages to proclaim the good news of the world of God out loud. And the twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and sickness, Mary, called Magdalen, from whom he had brought out seven evil impulses, 3 Jeanne, wife of Chouza, a trustee of of Herod, Suzanne, and several other women who assisted them with their property.


To let go one's past, to be guided by a new love, this is believing

Gospel commentary - Homily

It is in tears that the experience of life begins

Listen to Alan's story. Very early in his life he began to shine. At home, he was the model child. We could not fault him: always nice with his brothers and sisters, helpful for his parents. In class, he is distinguished by his intelligence, his sense of discipline and his zeal at work, and gets the best grades. Of course, he leads an active social life, does theater, and is a member of the choir. Alan will successfully complete his studies, get a job in a large engineering firm, and finally meet the one who will become his spouse.

Despite this faultless journey, Alan keeps in his heart a terrible secret: he has an addiction to pornography on the Internet. He would like to talk to his wife, but he feels captive to his image as an ideal and almost perfect man. Despite all his efforts to protect his image, his spouse finally discovered this secret. This is the drama: Alan collapses in tears, and mourns all the tears of his body. His past as a model man is crumbling, he faces his vulnerability. At the same time, he perceives through the firm and uncompromising words of his spouse, an unconditional love for the man he really is. Gradually he begins to die to this image that he tried so much to protect, to be born to a new relationship. Of course, the road will be long, and tears will flow again, but he knows that the uncompromising love of his wife will be there to support him.

Since the world exists, this story has been relived in many forms. The account of today's Gospel offers us a variant, but under the face of two characters: a man and a woman. The man represents in a way religious perfection: for the Pharisees practiced zealously the Jewish law in the smallest details, and were proud not to be like the others. They wanted to be blameless before God. What is wrong with that? Is not that what we should all be?

On the other side, we have a woman. We know almost nothing about her, but only that she was a notoriously evil woman, which suggests that she was practicing the oldest profession in the world, i.e., a prostitute. What has happened so that she wants now to find Jesus, so that she cries all the tears of her body, so that she kisses the feet of Jesus? Did Jesus meet her in the street before and glance at her in a way where she did not feel judged, where she felt respected and loved? We'll never know. But we know clearly that she did not hesitate to touch him by kissing his feet and smearing them with perfume. How could she have dared to do this without having complete confidence that she would not be rejected? She could not have done this without perceiving something in common with Jesus.

Let us not deceive ourselves: her tears express the collapse of her ancient world. Conversely, by letting himself be touched, Jesus renounced his image as a prophet and a man like no other. By letting himself be touched, Jesus affirmed that he shared something with this "evil life" woman. From that day, a woman set out for life, but a man, a good Pharisee, may have remained frozen in his religious zeal.

What is at stake here? At the starting point, our human and spiritual growth does not really look like an Olympic game where the athlete trains daily through heroic efforts and builds an extraordinary body, to finally receive his gold medal. Our human and spiritual growth is rather a surrender, a letting go of what constitutes our past and all our achievements, with its foundations and its security, to open to the interpellations of the present life and love. And this can not be done without total faith in life and the different faces of true love. Alan is called to die to his image as a model man and let the strength of his wife's love guide his life. The "woman of even life" of the Gospel is called to die to the image she had built of herself in the past to look now with the eyes of Jesus, and live up to this look. In both cases, one opens oneself to a love that does not come from oneself and one lets it guide one's life: that is faith. This is also forgiveness: true forgiveness means a being who dies to his past and goes through a transformation.

The account of this day can bring light to a scourge long kept secret which afflicts at this moment the Church: one wanted to protect its reputation by not denouncing the cases of priests or religious pedophiles. But precisely, is this story not reminding us that the "reputation" has nothing evangelical, that forgiveness and the true transformation begins when one dies to this reputation? The Church will truly be forgiven and transformed only when her tears come from looking with the eyes of love at the sufferings caused to the victims, rather than loosing her reputation. And this Church is not a reality external to us, it is us.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, March 2010