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Between the grief and the hope

Tuesday April 12

A reflection for Tuesday of Holy Week by the Rev Roddy Hamilton

Luke 7:36-50

One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Oh? Tell me.”

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

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

“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, and 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.”


It is a moment of intense holiness.
A potent  moment full of extravagance,

Unspooled by those
Who see things in black and white,

Who quickly measure one act against another:
Expensive perfume against the world’s poor.

The perfume pours over the Saviour’s feet,
A thanksgiving for Mary’s brother,

Yet this is a sacred sign
Of what is yet to be,

Of where you need to be, O Jesus,
Between the grief and the hope

On this long way to heaven
In the cross shaped days to come.


In such moments,
Anointed with grace,
And a generosity beyond the moment,
May we recognise the places of heaven
That break open among us,
Even in these grey shadows,
Along the highways of conflict in our world;
Anointed with hope
In the war torn places;
Anointed with the future
In the wreckage of the powerful.

In such moments,
Anointed with grace,
May we dwell in the wonder,
And cling to the faith,
That this sign
Is real.

The Rev Roddy Hamilton is minister of New Kilpatrick Parish Church, Bearsden

Holy Week Reflections
Palm Sunday: Silence is not a gift the stones will give
Monday: It is a long way to heaven from here


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