Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Silence is golden

My friend and I, in our weekly bible studies are working our way through women in the New Testament. This week it was the turn of the woman who gate-crashes Simon the Pharisee’s meal to weep before Jesus and anoint his feet with perfume.

In the middle of the story is the parable about two people who owe money. One owes just a little, the other owes a great amount. Both have their debts cancelled. (Actually, that is kind of relevant for my third year classes – we are looking at the Debt Crisis and the Drop the Debt campaign – cancelling debts!). Neither could pay their debt – so it did not matter who owed the most. If you owe someone ten pounds and you don’t have the money, you might as well owe them a hundred pounds – you still don’t have the money.

What really struck me about the woman’s encounter with Jesus is her silence. She never said a word. Simon did not say much either come to think about it. The woman never confessed her sins to Jesus. She never tried to defend her lifestyle or the choices that she had made. She never blamed anyone or society for the way things had turned out. She never spoke at all, and yet through her actions she spoke volumes!

Her silence challenges me. She doesn’t list the individual crimes or give details about when they happened or who was there. To stand in front of someone knowing that they do not need to know the details – they know how bad it is, and you know how bad it is – and that is enough, is something so humble.

Words put limits on things. The minute you begin to use words to describe something, you set up boundaries. No words – no boundaries. The bad state of things is just too bad to put into words. We are so careful that people don’t think the worst of us that we are careful to describe exactly what we have or haven’t done.

She is allowing him to think the worst of her. I know that God knows everything about me, but deep down I also want him not to think badly of me. Her silence says – “Think what you will. I can offer no excuses. I simply come before you. Do what you must.”

Jesus accepts everything – the silence and all that it means. His grace reaches out and embraces her.

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