Thursday, June 13, 2013

Defender of prostitutes

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
June 16, 2013

Luke 7:36-8:3

Jesus is in the home of Simon, a Pharisee who has invited him to dinner. Unexpectedly, a woman interrupts the banquet. The guests recognize her immediately. She is a town prostitute. Her presence creates uneasiness and anticipation. How will Jesus react? Will he eject her so she won't contaminate the guests? The woman says nothing. She's used to being despised, especially in Pharisee environments. She goes to Jesus directly, throws herself at his feet and bursts into tears. She doesn't know how to thank him for his welcome -- she covers his feet with kisses, anoints them with perfume she has brought with her, and dries them with her hair.

The Pharisee's reaction is swift. He can't hide his contempt: "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is -- a sinner." He isn't as naive as Jesus. He knows very well that this woman is a prostitute, unworthy to touch Jesus. She should be separated from him.

But Jesus doesn't eject or reject her. On the contrary, he welcomes her respectfully and kindly. In her gestures, he finds clean love and grateful faith. Before everyone, he talks with her to defend her dignity and reveal to her how God loves her: "Your sins have been forgiven." Then, while all the guests are in shock, he reaffirms her in her faith and wishes her a new life: "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." God will be with her forever.

A few months ago, they called me to take part in a very unique Pastoral Encounter. A group of prostitutes was among us. I could speak with them at leisure. I'll never be able to forget them. Over the three days, we were able to hear their powerlessness, their fears, their loneliness...For the first time I understood why Jesus loved them so much. I also understood his words to the religious leaders: "I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you."

These women who have been tricked and enslaved, subjected to all sorts of abuse, terrorized to keep them isolated, many with hardly any protection or security, are the invisible victims of a cruel and inhumane world, largely silenced by society and practically forgotten by the Church.

We who are followers of Jesus can't turn our backs on the suffering of these women. Our diocesan churches can't abandon them to their sad fate. We must raise our voices to awaken society's awareness. We must give much more support to those who are fighting for their rights and dignity. Jesus who loved them so much would also be the first to defend them today.

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