I am Simon

This entry spills over from this week’s post on The Edge of The Enclosure

Simon, I have something to say to you.

Uh oh. A gentle but humiliating reproach. Is it something I thought to myself? And he read my mind? Yes. Christ lives in me. Someday perhaps I will say it is not I that lives but Christ that lives in me. Then we won’t have to have these little talks.

I feel sorry for Simon. His entire upbringing, social milieu, pats on the back, kudos,training, all his successes carefully prepare him to be the butt of a Gospel joke.  But I resonate with his cynicism.

As much as I’d like to think of myself as a free thinker, loving and open to people and ideas, I have that critical edge that needs to sort data into proper boxes to fend off anarchic chaos. I suppose even before politics I unconsciously assess people by looks and gestures and, certainly, table manners. Unfortunate associations with people who have hurt me even as far back as kindergarten no doubt assail my neurons with danger flashes however irrational and entirely forgotten the connection might be. I sort, categorize, organize, judge to protect or enhance myself. Is this person useful to me? I know pragmatism perks up something in my psyche.

Despite the instant personality organizer in my brain of which I’m barely aware, I’m a poor judge of character. (Which makes all my organized boxes a stupid jumble anyway.)  My innermost voice asks, “Why does this person who wants to befriend you not have deep and lasting friends? If she gossips in your presence about other people, what makes you think she won’t gossip about you?” But the optimistic Pollyanna part of my brain habitually overrides the inner voice. I want to be her friend and lo and behold I find myself the subject of exaggerated if not untrue gossip. My inner voice asks, “If this person’s righteous if-a-little-blind rage erupts against another person without understanding or subtlety, what makes you think this rage won’t be projected onto you when you say something unpopular?” But my Pollyanna says, “But he really likes me and wouldn’t ever use this blind irrationality against me behind my back!” Pollyanna wins, the inner voice loses.  In most cases of betrayal of trust, my own inner voice is the one betrayed – and by me. I prove to myself significantly that I judge by appearances. And what of the many more times I judge wrongly and ignore the destructive consequences of my own thoughtlessness and  heedlessness! It’s easier to see the wrongs done to you than the wrongs you do to others.

When Jesus says, be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, I think he means balancing the inner voice of warning with open embracing love of people.  He certainly erred on the side of trust. Giving Judas the money purse, for one example.

Simon the Pharisee bears layers of societal accomplishment. If this man were a prophet he would know what kind of woman is touching him. I can feel Simon’s face flinch with contempt, although he’s well-bred enough to mask it. Simon can’t see the pearl of great price. Then Jesus flips the table over like he does the temple money-changers, and reveals the one person in the room most alive and in touch with Reality.

And maybe that person most alive and in touch with Reality lives in me, too, along with Simon. The most comforting parable to me is the story of the workers hired at the eleventh hour who earn as much as the field hands laboring all day. I can repent, turn, weep, awake, rise from the dead right now, at this moment. Because Reality opens in the present eternity.

picture: Meal at the House of Simon, Unknown Artist, French School

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