Ss Cornelius & Cyprian | Thursday 16 September 2021
Today is Thursday the 16 September, the feast of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, in the 24th week of Ordinary Time.
The University of Johannesburg choir sing the Kyrie: Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy. These imploring words, which have been sung for centuries, are a reminder of the inexhaustible mercy of God, of God’s unfailing compassion and forgiveness.
Today, we will be entering into the Gospel scene using a way of praying called“Imaginative Contemplation”, which aims at a personal encounter with the Lord. There is no one goal that you are looking to attain during this kind of prayer; just allow the Spirit to lead you, and see where you end up.
But first, listen to today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke:
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—that she is a sinner.’ Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’ ‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’
Be present to the scene:
What is the mood of it? What does the reference to “Pharisees” suggest to you?
Now watch what happens: what about the “alabaster jar of ointment”? What picture does this bring to your mind?
Watch what the woman does: how do you feel as she stands behind him and weeps? Notice that she bathes his feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, kissing them and anointing them. What is going on here?
Then observe the reaction of Simon the Pharisee: how does he feel about what is happening to Jesus?
Simon is challenged about his lack of hospitality: how might he feel about this? Imagine the woman listening to the conversation. How does she feel now? Can you identify with this?
Now listen to what Jesus says to her: “Your sins are forgiven”. How does she feel at this point?
Notice what the guests at the table are muttering: “Who is this who even forgive sins?” What is the answer to their question?
Finally, listen with the woman’s ears to Jesus’ final remark: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”. How does she feel now? How do you feel?
When she goes out, what is her chief emotion, do you think?
Finally try to sum up all that has happened in this time of prayer, and turn it into talking to God. Or to Jesus.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.