Do You See This Woman?

In the midst of a dramatic yet oh so delicate moment, Jesus asks Simon-the-hard-hearted Pharisee a poignant question, “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7: 44). 

The question arises smack dab in the center of an amazing story of contrasting affections. Simon-the-know-it-all leader stands at a distance from Jesus while a “sinful woman” can’t stop showing Jesus her profound gratitude and love.  Upon entry into his home, Simon didn’t show Jesus even the most basic hospitality: water to wash his feet, a customary kiss of greeting, or oil to anoint his head. But, this woman is relentless in her expressions of affection: wetting Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, pouring out expensive perfume and then kissing his feet.

Sit with this passage (Luke 7: 36-50) long enough and you can’t help but enter Simon’s home and engage in this incredible story. The fact of the matter is: Simon missed everything. He missed the significance of Jesus’ presence in his home. He missed the powerful worship of the renewed woman. He missed out on the forgiveness, grace, and love offered by Jesus. He missed the opportunity to experience life-changing transformation. His little heart remained closed. His religious power mattered more than his changed heart. His guest, Jesus, became the host of this simple dinner party, but the eyes of Simon’s heart were crusted shut by his selfishness and pride.

This story reminds me of a few current realities. Firstly, I’m processing with a friend a violation she recently experienced in the workplace. Disregarded in every way, ignored, disrespected, colluded against, and powered over. She wasn’t included in decisions that would directly impact her work. The bosses simply barked an order and she was expected to follow in kind. No conversation. No collegiality. No compassion. No courage. She simply wasn’t seen.

Secondly, we’re also in the midst of Black History Month, a time when we are to be appropriately unsettled by the injustices inflicted upon our black brothers and sisters for far too long. A recent visit to the African American Smithsonian Institute museum in Washington DC brought me to tears as I witnessed with clarity the untold number of lives impacted by the powerful who suppressed their basic human rights. Watching “Just Mercy” for the third time. Listening to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and reading again his “Letter from a  Birmingham Jail” and then discussing it with seminary students. All of this keeps the message in front of us, never to be forgotten. This all needs to be seen.

Fill in the blank…”Do you see this person?” It may be a woman, or a person of color, or a friend who’s abused, ignored, or irrationally powered over. 

The evidence that we don’t see is astounding: we allow another to be powered over, disregarded, excluded, rejected, colluded against, judged, or violated. We stand as bystanders without the courage to be seen with the unseen.

In contrast, this is how we show another that we indeed “see” them: we inquire of and listen to one another; we include and respect one another; we value and validate one another; we think the best of one another; we are both with and for one another; we withhold judgment from one another; we forgive and show grace to one another; and we love and appreciate one another.

Jesus asks Simon a question he also asks of us, “Do you see this woman?” Open the eyes of your heart today and see like Jesus sees. Your life won’t be the same for very long. 

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.