“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50
Is our faith like the faith of the woman? Is it practical? Is it personal? Is it polite?
Jesus expects faith that is practical. He goes to house of Simon the Pharisee for a meal. It would have been a great honour for Simon to have had Jesus as a guest. To sit at a meal table with someone was a mark of deep respect for that person, but does Simon show a similar deep respect for Jesus? Maybe he is so overawed at having Jesus in his house that he has forgotten his duties, or maybe he was so concerned that his friends might think less of him if they saw him concerned with domestic tasks, that he deliberately neglects his duties. Whatever the explanation, Jesus arrives and is given no water to wash the dust from his feet. In Saint Luke Chapter 7 Verse 44, we hear Jesus rebuking Simon for this basic lack of practical concern. “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.”
Is our faith in Jesus a practical faith? While Simon didn’t concern himself with practical things like providing water for washing feet, when we read the story of the Last Supper, we read of Jesus himself washing the feet of his disciples. It is much easier to be “religious” Christians, to be “spiritual” Christians, than it is to be the practical people that Jesus expects us to be. Perhaps it is pride that stops us, perhaps it is because we prefer not to do the practical things, but Jesus expects our faith to be shown in a practical way. Jesus tells the woman that her faith has saved her and it is a faith that is a practical faith.
Jesus expects us to be practical in our faith and he expects us to be personal in our faith. In Verse 45, Jesus says to Simon, “You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet.” Simon has wanted Jesus in his house, but he has not wanted to make any personal commitment on his own part, he has not wanted to show any personal affection. Simon’s failure to embrace Jesus is in stark contrast with the behaviour of the woman who kisses his feet as a mark of her own affection. The woman’s behaviour is unmistakeably personal, Simon’s hospitality has been unmistakeably impersonal.
Are we personal in our faith? Is our faith in Jesus something that comes from our own heart, or do we think that we can have a faith that does not demand any personal commitment? Do we think of faith as something outside of ourselves, something that we acknowledge, but something that we do not embrace for ourselves? Jesus tells the woman that her faith has saved her and it is a faith that is a personal faith.
Jesus expects us to be practical in our faith, he expects us to be personal in our faith, and he expects us to be polite in our faith. In Verse 46, he says to Simon, “You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.” Simon has not shown Jesus the basic courtesy that a guest at a meal might have expected. The other guests must have wondered at Simon’s lack of politeness, what did Simon think of Jesus that he was treating him in such a way? If Jesus was an honoured guest, then why wasn’t Simon treating him with honour? Jesus clearly noticed the lack of basic courtesy, and he rebukes Simon for failing to be polite.
Are we polite in our faith? In our everday dealings with everyone we meet, are we people who show a sense of God’s grace? Saint Paul tells us in the Second Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 5 Verse 20, that we are “Christ’s amabassadors.” When we think of an ambassador, we think of someone who is diplomatic, someone who is courteous, someone who is polite. The ambassador behaves in this way because the ambassador realizes that they are representing something far greater, something far more important. We are representing someone who is infinitely greater than we are, someone who is infinitely more important, we need to ensure that we are polite. Jesus tells the woman that her faith has saved her and it is a faith that is a polite faith.
Faith that is practical, faith that is personal, faith that is polite. Jesus challenges us to have such a faith.