Morning Meditation: Empathy

It was supposed to be a nice dinner: good people (they all went to the same church), good conversation. No drama.

But before the evening could be called a success, an uninvited guest arrived.

Her reputation preceded her! She was the town slut, a harlot, strumpet, prostitute . . . whatever word you’d like to use. She used her body sexually for money. And she crashed the party.

Before the religious leaders could throw her out, she found the guest of honor.

Standing before him, weeping, she unraveled her hair, which was inappropriate in the presence of the opposite sex.

Taking her long hair, she wiped his feet until they were dry from her tears. After kissing them, she then took a very expensive bottle of perfume she’d brought with her, opened it, and anointed his feet with the perfume.

This infuriated the religious people who were attending the party.

“If this Jesus guy is the prophet he says he is, then he’d know – she is the last person that should EVER be here . . . much less touching his feet.”

Jesus could have gotten in an argument with them, telling them how wrong they were. But instead, he took pause. Thought about it from their perspective and showed great empathy.

Why were they acting this way? What would make them so upset about her actions that they became infuriated?

Ohhhhhhh . . . . they didn’t “get it”! They did not have the personal experiences to draw from that would enable them to understand her depth of gratitude.

And frankly, they abided by the rules that they truly believed led them closer to God.

So, instead of getting in a verbal war with them or simply packing up his toys and going home to pout because they challenged him, he told them a story.

“Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was most forgiven.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived, she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

The gift he gave her through his empathy was peace.

What if you and I utilized our thoughts and feelings to look at situations where we don’t necessarily like someone, and instead of being offended, put off, or angry, what if we’d take a different stance?

What if we’d look at the entire situation from their lives, their shoes?

What if we gave them empathy?

We’d give them a gift of peace!

What an incredible thing to be known for . . . the giver of peace.

Let’s try it today.

Grace and Peace,