About This Weeks Prompts for Personal Meditation A womanof the city who was a sinner makes her way into the house of Simon and places herself at the feet of Jesus. We don't know what her sin is, but the sins of the flesh have been ascribed to her through centuries of art, sermons, commentary, poetry. What other sins does she have power to commit? Extortion? Junk stock trading? Selling inferior cement for oil rigs? Furthermore,“she loved much”seems like a double entendre. Whoring around with other gods generates the Biblical plot from Genesis on and Yahweh woos Israel back again and again. I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her...Hosea 2:14 The woman who loved much contrasts with Simon. Her love might have become misdirected or cheapened or more likely sold for her very survival. But Simon sits as self righteous judge over the tawdry drama of repentance taking place at their feet. And yet, her tears have saved her. Pay attention to your tears (meditation one). Tears are better than words (meditation two). Your life-giving tears will draw others into the love of God (meditation three). -Suzanne
Meditation One tears
You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you've never seen before. A pair of somebody's old shoes can do it. Almost any movie made before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.
They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next.
Frederick Buechner b.1926 Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary
A little more from Buechner. He writes of his conversion in his book Now and Then. A sermon by George Buttrick which includes the phrase “among confession, and tears, and great laughter,” moves him deeply. Buechner talks about enrolling at Union Theological Seminary and wanting to study theology, church history, and Bible: No intellectual pursuit had ever aroused in me such intense curiosity, and much more than my intellect was involved, much more than my curiosity aroused. In the unfamiliar setting of a Presbyterian church, of all places, I had been moved to astonished tears which came from so deep inside me that to this day I have never fathomed them, I wanted to learn more about the source of those tears and the object of that astonishment.
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect for proper 6, Book of Common Prayer
Meal in the House of Simon, Unknown Artist, French School
Meditation Two by her love of truth We do not read that she spoke, but that she wept; and nevertheless we believe that she spoke in a better way, but with tears rather than words. In fact, speaking with tears is very fruitful in the sight of God. While the woman maintained silence with her mouth, tears did the work; and while her tongue was silent, her tears were confessing and supplicating better, in a more useful way. For this reason, while weeping the Holy Sinner kept quiet, lest he [the Lord] accuse her of saying too little about the evil she had done. In all cases, prayers expressed by tears are better than those expressed by words.
-Geoffrey of Vendome 1093-1132 Sermon IX, PL 158, 271-72 quoted from The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages by Katherine Ludwig Jansen ...a woman of the city which was a sinner, washed out the stain of her sins with her tears by her love of the truth; and the world of truth is fulfilled which says her sins are forgiven for she loved much. She who had previously been cold through sin was afterward aflame with love.
-Gregory the Great c540-604 Homily XXV
Meditation Three open to life and love When anyone discovers the healing fountains of conversion, it is in some way through the gift of other people, and the waters of life thus received overflow in their turn into the lives of others, to fructify the deserts of human experience; it becomes a chain reaction, not only for those who hear but for those who read about the event. At each stage there are tears, not the tears of self-pity or remorse, but the lifegiving tears that come from a heart suddenly open to life and love.
-Benedicta Ward Harlots of the Desert
The Last Word How blest are those who know their need of God, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.