Faith of a mustard seed

Last updated on July 22nd, 2021 at 04:46 pm

Barbara Woods-Washington

“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.” (Luke 7:44-47)

I have given a lot of thought to just how it is that this woman could be judged so great a sinner, as many other women in the Biblical narrative have been. With so little power over the smallest events of her times, what could she have possibly done to be labeled— and known by so many as ‘a sinner’?

Having come out of a statistic of up to 70% of the families being headed up by women— generations of ‘no father’ influences in children’s lives, I know many a woman who ‘did what she had to do’ in order to feed, clothe, and shelter her children. In a world that would show her ‘eros/love’, but never ‘philos/ love’— and then judge her ‘a sinner’.

I recall a day in my days of student ministry while in Seminary in Atlanta. I was at Grady Hospital on a sick visit and found myself sitting in the waiting room opposite two men from Ebenezer Baptist Church also there waiting to call upon sick members. They were upward in age and though casual in dress, both had on their left chest what I thought to be ‘ a sheriff’s badge’, but upon closer look it read ‘Deacon’. Even with this level of ‘authority’, most memorable was the heavy set man with his cane held tightly in his hand as he, even while sitting, leaned upon it.As they talked about their purpose, I said to them that I too, am a Deacon, having received my first ordination in the United Methodist Church.

They looked at each other with a face of having ‘smelled some-thing— bad’! Then the one with the cane began to beat it upon the floor as he said to me,

“God ain’t called no woman to preach!”

This image is one that I shall never forget—as though they could ‘beat me’ into believing that my calling is not sure. My immediate response was an outburst of laughter. Their expressions of disgust turned into a look of hatred and I said “no, no, I’m not laughing at you, it’s just that the way that God is already using me, it’s funny to me that you can’t know!”

Jesus asked Simon “Do you see this woman?” Look again at the clear picture of ‘the sinner’ ascertained from the Psalmist. He is the opposite of the ‘pious, righteous and godly’.(She is sick and tired of his piousness, righteousness and godliness).He breaks the commandments and trust in his own power and wealth and understanding.(Her lack of power and lack of wealth and mis-understanding is sometimes all that she has).

There is often a complete dismissal of God in his life.(Many nights as she cries about how she is being treated and how she will feed her children she wonders ‘where is God’?)

As ‘The Law—Torah’ becomes the ‘center of life’ for the Old Testament believer, the study of and devotion to Torah is what ‘keeps from sin’. Jesus asked Simon “Do you see this woman?” I see now.

As long a woman allows a male dominated system— (theologically, socially, economically, etc.), to keep her from preaching— she rema-ins… ‘a sinner’!

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