Thursday, 24 September 2009

Do you see this woman?

It's very easy to go through life and not notice certain groups of people - we can hardly notice the homeless person, the asylum seeker, the psychiatric patient, the violent, the unloved. I guess our whole lives are geared around living in a bubble of middle-class people who cause us no discomfort. It was one of the first things that struck me when I first started teaching - I saw a cross-section of the population - those who would never, with all the will in the world get a GCSE, those who had been burnt, abused. I see the disabled, the young carers, the witnesses of domestic abuse. Yet, now I've been teaching all these years, its easy not to see it.

It is with this in mind that I was struck this week by Ched Myers' take on the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet. The crux of the story, he argues, is when Jesus turns to the crowd and asks "Do you see this woman?" Here was a woman suffering and oppressed and she is not seen - the political consequences of her actions are seen, but the woman herself is not seen. Jesus called on the religious leaders, just as he calls on us, to see the inconvenient other.

I myself had lived for years with Bibles and commentaries all around me and had not seen - now the challenge is to live with this new insight - an insight that sees, even if inadequately.

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