44Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?
Jesus is talking to Simon, but he is turned towards the woman who was washed his feet with her tears. If it is a typical banquet setup where the men are reclining, it means Jesus has turned from leaning on his left side with his legs bent so that the woman is behind him, and rolled onto his back to that he faces her. From that position his back is to Simon. Although he is speaking with Simon, the woman has his full attention. She has his face, his eyes, his heart.
And the question Jesus asks Simon is so simple, “Do you see this woman?” So much hinges on his response.
“Do you see this woman?” Or is she to you just another thing one scurries by on the street? People often avoid the homeless like you would a dog, or a trash fallen from a garbage can. We pass people without seeing. The mind registers a category not a person. A sales clerk. A police office. A waiter. We don’t consider that they are coping with a sick child or an empty house. We don’t consider that they are bearing burdens of shame or sorrow. We don’t consider that even standing there might be painful for them. They are as things to us. It’s why frustrated passengers seem so willing to curse an airline ticket agent. Years ago, on a flight home from college, a flight attendant (a stewardess, then) leaned over to ask a woman in the window seat if she would like something to drink. When the woman didn’t respond, she asked again, a little louder, but the woman continued to look away, as if looking out the window. The man in the aisle seat then spoke up and said, “My wife doesn’t speak with servants.”
“Do you see this woman?” If Simon could see, so much would be different. But he doesn’t see. He doesn’t consider. She is a sinner. An “it” for those who have read Martin Buber. And Jesus must be no prophet or he would not let her touch him. Jesus is an “it”, too, to Simon
But Jesus sees. Jesus turns towards the woman. He receives graciously her signs of gratitude. He sends her on her way in peace.
“Do you see this woman?” So much depends on our answer to that question. And so much happens because Jesus sees.
And because he sees us.
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The reference is to Martin Buber’s book, “I And Thou”