16TH SEPTEMBER 2021.
SAINTS CORNELIUS, POPE AND CYPRIAN, BISHOP MARTYRS.
1 TIMOTHY 4:16-16,
YOUR FAITH HAS SAVED YOU; GO IN PEACE.
At the end of today's Gospel reading, Jesus tells the woman at the centre of discussion " Your faith has saved you; go in peace. "
What is faith in this story? What is salvation for this woman who is said to be from the city and is said to be a sinner?
As we reflect on these questions, let us remember that Jesus used this phrase of, " Your faith has saved you ; go in peace" on those who portrayed faith when seeking healing from him. Could it be that this sinful woman from the city was sick and needed healing? If the answer is yes then what was she suffering from? Were her sins her sickness?
In this Gospel passage, if we are not keen, we can overlook the fact that the words of Jesus were not only directed to the unnamed sinful woman from the city but also to everyone sitting around the dinner
table. Another fact not to be overlooked is that you cannot determine your worth to Jesus by a calculation of your sins because in the circumstances mentioned here that is not how God works.
If this woman had faith, then her faith is seen in her own actions. Her decision to go to the dinner uninvited and unexpected, knowing she was not wanted or welcome, her boldness and audacity to lavish attention extravagantly on Jesus and her desire to be like the other women who followed Jesus, were all acts of faith.
Why does Jesus tell her, " Your faith has saved you; go in peace, " yet she has not opened her mouth to express what she needs from Jesus?
People like Jairus the synagogue leader, the Roman centurion and the Syrophoenician woman expressed their need and desire to Jesus by word of mouth but this woman does not talk, her actions speak louder and show her intention.
This woman's encounter with Jesus makes us see that faith is also the belief that you are worthy of forgiveness and salvation and acting on that belief. Faith here is the belief that you are worthy to sit at the table, that you are worthy of touching God and being touched by God, that you are worthy of belonging where you are not expected. Like the Pharisees, are we sometimes so certain about whom God includes and considers worthy of God's love? As we ponder on this question, let us not forget that being considered unworthy can very well extend for a lifetime, this woman did not just sin a few minutes ago or just one day ago but the Gospel passage alludes to the fact that people knew the type of a woman she is, that she is a sinner.
When the elder brother protested about his father organizing a party for his lost brother in Luke 15, for how long did he want his brother to remain unworthy of his father's love? For how long do we want those we know to remain unworthy of the graces that God bestows upon them through the church? What if they have faith like this woman,a faith we cannot see but only God sees!
Every once in a while someone like this woman comes along and says no and yes. No to those who would keep her at bay and sneer at her when she has dares to express her love and faith and she says yes to Jesus because she believes Jesus sees her, favours her and regardsher becausetobeseen,tobefavouredandtobe regarded is salvation itself.
With whom do you identify with in this Gospel reading individually and as a church, is it the sinful woman of the city who loved much and had faith, is it Simon the Pharisee or is it Jesus?
Can our families and our church be places
we can create rooms for people to come to Jesus and express their faith in the best way they know without placing too much burden on them, without playing safe and without fear but just as they are. Look at how the woman came to Jesus, that was her way,her style of expressing her faith in the mercy of God.