Babette’s Feast and Eucharist I

babette's Feast

Let us pray from St. Teresa of Avila

Christ has no body now but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which

he looks compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.

Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.  AMEN

A Reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (7:36-50)

36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to [a]dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a [b]sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a [c]sinner.”  40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he [d]replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred[e]denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say [f]to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

There is quite a contrast between the Pharisee and the woman, one showing hospitality and the other refraining from it.  With Pharisees being so accustomed to rules, you would think it would be the other way around.  But it is the woman who greets Jesus by kissing him, washing his feet and using an oil to refresh.  These were customary things to do when a guest arrived, but the Pharisee does none of them.  Why is that?  Maybe he admired Jesus but didn’t want to show it out of fear, but this seems unlikely with his rude behavior.  Maybe he was hoping to catch him in doing something wrong so he could charge him, yet he does call him rabbi/teacher.  He probably collected celebrities, and Jesus seemed to be the latest fad  (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, p. 93).   This story is an example of people not always seeming on the outside what they are on the inside.  This will be shown in Babette’s Feast as well.  How does Eucharist transform us?  How does Eucharist teach us to be our true selves?

“It is true to say that the greatest of sins is to be conscious of no sin; but a sense of need will open the door to the forgiveness of God, because God is love, and love’s greatest glory is to be needed,” (p. 94).  This woman showed great need for Jesus.  She wasn’t afraid to step into a place where she wasn’t supposed to be, hair unbound, and pour herself over Jesus.  She uses no words, but her actions speak for her.  Consider how approaching Eucharist would touch our hearts more if we showed great need for it like this woman.  Consider the needs of the people in this film as well.

In Jesus’ parable, he points out how we like things to be fair and just.  The man with the greater debt must love the moneylender more because he was forgiven more.  Jesus tells this story in reference to the woman and why she is lavishing him with love.  But who does the moneylender love more?  He forgives both debts equally.  That is how God’s love works.  We love imperfectly, in the best way we know how.  Note how love works in this film too.  And in receiving Eucharist, we are all called to the table, no matter how worthy.

Let us pray

How often do we hold back, Lord?

We sometimes find ourselves

not coming to you

because we are not worthy, or ready,

to receive you.

Heal us.  Open us to your presence

so that we might see

your great love for us

exactly as we are.

AMEN

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