Theme 2 : Artwork 3

Reflection Title: 
The Gift of Tears
Reflection Content: 

A woman bursts in on a private dinner. She carries an alabaster jar filled with myrrh, an expensive oil—the oil of her trade: pleasure for those who can afford it. But now she comes with the best she has, her tears plus the alabaster jar. She is seeking a man pure of heart who knows who she is, who knows that what she does is not who she is. Many men have come to her seeking a few moments of imagined communion. Now she comes, filled with tears, and falls down at the feet of a barefoot man, washes his feet with her tears, and anoints them with oil. Simon, the wealthy man who hosts the dinner, knows her profession. Jesus knows her tears. These are not the tears of self-pity or even remorse. There have been many of them filling the years. These are the life-giving tears, pouring forth from the heart, a new opening to life and love. The oil of bondage turns into the “oil of gladness.” Those who “sows in tear reap in gladness.”

Story Title: 
Story Content: 

One of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him; he went to the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table. A woman who was living an immoral life in the town had learned that Jesus was at table in the Pharisee’s house and had brought oil of myrrh in a small flask. She took her place behind him, by his feet, weeping. His feet were wetted with her tears and she wiped them with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the myrrh. When his host the Pharisee saw this he said to himself, “If this fellow were a real prophet, he would know who this woman is that touches him, and what sort of woman she is, a sinner.” Jesus took him up and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Speak on, Master,” said he. “Two men were in debt to a money-lender: one owed him five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. As neither had anything to pay with he let them both off. Now, which will love him most?’ Simon replied, “I should think the one that was let off most.” “You are right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, he said to Simon, “You see this woman? I came to your house: you provided no water for my feet; but this woman has made my feet wet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss; but she has been kissing my feet ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil; but she has anointed my feet with myrrh. And so, I tell you, her great love proves that her many sins have been forgiven; where little has been forgiven, little love is shown.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to ask themselves, “Who is this, that he can forgive sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

—Luke 7:36–50

Contemporary Story Title: 
Ojibway Prayer
Contemporary Story Content: 

Look at our brokenness.

We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

We know that we are the ones
Who are divided
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk in the Sacred Way.

Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion and honour
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.

Artwork Title: 
Artwork Content: 

Dieric Bouts (1415–1475), master of the Northern Renaissance, was appointed as an “official painter” to the town of Louvain in the Netherlands (today Leuven, Belgium). He was influenced by Rogier Van der Weyden. Established as a portraiture painter, Bouts also painted altarpieces and scenes from the Bible. In the painting Christ in the House of Simon, the artist retells the parable of “A Sinful Woman Forgiven” (Luke 7:36–39). The scene from the Gospel is depicted in the room of the city dweller in Louvain. The barefooted guests are sitting around the table, served with a meal. The only person in shoes is Simon the Pharisee. Jesus’s dear disciple John (at the head of the table) talks to the kneeling donor, the Dominican monk, while the disciple Peter (depicted beside John) is showing his disapproval of the woman anointing the feet of Jesus. Tradition identifies the woman wiping Jesus’s feet as Mary Magdalene. She becomes, becomes an icon of repentance, of turning around, and remains the faithful friend of Jesus, present at his crucifixion and the first to discover his empty tomb.

Question Title: 
Do tears restore?
Question Content: 

We had to have him put away,
For what if he’d grown vicious?
To play faith-healer, give away
Stale bread and stinking fishes!
His soapbox preaching set the tongues
Of all the neighbors going.
Odd stuff: how lilies never spin
And birds don’t bother sowing.
Why, bums were coming to the door—
His pockets had no bottom—
And then—the footwash from that whore!
We signed. They came and got him.
—X.J. Kennedy, (born 1929)

When did someone last wash your feet? Or, when did you last wash the feet of another person? It is not uncommon. Try to remember when last it occurred. Perhaps it was in an ordinary shower or bath that you washed your feet. Or maybe you helped to wash the feet of a child or elderly relative. Perhaps it was a different kind of foot washing, as it was in the House of Simon, when it took place with tears? You have probably not literally wept on someone’s feet, but have you wept over the missteps of life, the pathways trodden and regretted? Has someone opened the floodgates of sorrow to you? Have you, perhaps in ways unknown to you, opened those floodgates for someone else? It is not uncommon.

Music Content: 

Flow My Tears

John Dowland’s most popular “ayre,” originally written as an instrumental piece entitled Lachrimae pavane, was first published with lyrics in 1600.

“Flow, My Tears.” John Dowland, Dowland: Flow My Tears and Other Lute Songs, Steven Rickards, counter tenor, Dorothy Linell, lute, Naxos: Early Music 2000. Track 2.


Fix You

Written by alternative band Coldplay’s Chris Martin for his wife on the death of her father. When Martin asked if there was anything he could do for her, she answered “Just hold me… you’re the only thing that can fix me right now."

“Fix You.” Coldplay, X & Y, Parlophone Records Ltd. 2005. Track 4. 


Redemption Song

“Redemption Song.” Bob Marley, Legend, Tuff Gong 2002. Track 12.

Image Theme: 
Image Thumbnail: 
Image Summary: 

Christ in the House of Simon the Pharisee, 1460. Dieric the Elder Bouts, 1415–1475. 

Story Audio: 
Contemporary Story Audio: 

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