Sometimes we want to be someone other than who we are. We want to be like our friend who has more patience, our neighbor who has more compassion, our co-worker who has more strength. Or the opposite. We want others to be more like us. If only other people were as generous or helpful or understanding as we are.
There is a Gospel story about a woman who was not trying to be someone she was not, nor was she expecting others to be who she wanted them to be (Luke 7:36-8:3). She is so eager to see Jesus that she walks uninvited into a dinner party where he is dining with some important religious leaders. Not only does she walk in uninvited, she is known in the town to be a great sinner. She moves through the room weeping profusely and she goes right to Jesus. Kneeling down, she starts washing his feet with her tears, dries her tears with her hair and tenderly anoints his feet with oil. To the dismay of the other dinner guests, instead of throwing the woman out, Jesus praises her loving actions and forgives her sins. The woman presented her real self to Jesus and he showed her great love.
Jesus loves the real people we are, not the imitation versions that we think he will like better or love more. It is our true selves, with our strengths and our weaknesses that Jesus loves, not some perfect idea of ourselves that we have in our imaginations. Like the woman in the story, Jesus invites us to present our real selves before him and let him love and care for us.
Jesus does not require perfection as a condition for his love. The woman in the Gospel knew that so she knelt before Jesus just as she was. No matter what condition our lives are in, she invites us to do the same.
Together in faith,
Fr. Tuyen Nguyen, Vice-Rector Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector