“One who accompanies others has to realize that each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, par. 172)
As I get older I hope I am growing in a bit of wisdom. One thing I am trying not to do as much as I used to is judge the proverbial book by its cover. People are so much more complex than what they appear to be, and our encounter with them is always about more than just the momentary reactions we all have when we experience their actions.
Today’s gospel story about the sinful woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with oil is a case in point. Jesus gets to the core of the matter when he acknowledges in great mercy that the simple act of kindness the woman accomplishes is so much more important than the obvious complexity of her moral life. Pope Francis goes on to say:
“The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions, but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability. Someone good at such accompaniment does not give in to frustrations or fears. He or she invites others to let themselves be healed…”
Jesus sees the woman as a person, complex and in need of forgiveness. But he opens the door to her healing by dignified and overpowering kindness. I just bet she became one of his followers, and always kept near the healing balm of acceptance and kindness for those the disciples would encounter in a complex world.
Let’s cut each other some slack this week! As Jesus shows, a little kindness goes a long way!
Sincerely, with love,