Two groups of people go out to dine. The first group chooses a nice restaurant, politely makes a reservation, is seated at their table by the wait staff, and orders their meal. During that dinner they are dressed well, use fine cutlery, engage in polite conversation, and have their dinner before desert. It is a pleasant and polite night out. After the meal, they get up, shake hands, and go their separate ways.
The second group have just been through a violent earthquake. They have been stranded in a shattered village and isolated due to the debris blocking the road. They are a rural group, isolated and due to their remote location they are difficult to reach. That earthquake was a major one, the loss of buildings was complete and the loss of life was nearly the same. Several small groups managed to escape the wreckage before the buildings collapse. They have no way of knowing that quake caused damage throughout the country as all lines of communication have been lost. They have been stranded for a week without food or water, it is cold and they are shivering. A small truck finally reaches them with a small amount of food and water. Those who survived that earthquake charge the van in a chaotic scramble. There is little care for order or politeness, they need food and water for their survival. After gouging on food they are thankful.
The first group is reminiscent of that Pharisees dinner party of the first century, yet the first century party was more formal than anything people experience today. The second is how that sinful woman approached Christ. Hers was not a polite and entertaining dining, it was a plea for survival. She needed salvation at any and all cost. Both of these scenarios do offer a way to approach Christ, one formal and the other desperate. It’s the desperate plea that gets the results. It’s the one who needs that food for survival that gets nourished. It’s the one that drinks out of need that gets their thirst quenched. When I approach Christ’s table, it should be with that hunger and that determination. It should be with full knowledge that my life does depend on it. It is my nourishment and my survival. Years ago that desperation was emphasized through the much longer Eucharistic fast. If one did honestly obey that fast they approached the table with a physical hunger as a reminder of a spiritual hunger. Perhaps that made it easier to identify with the spiritual hunger of that sinful woman at the Pharisees table. She desperately needed Christ