The jilting of Granny Weatherall is a short story authored by Katherine Anne Porter during the 1930’s. The story narrates, almost comically and somewhat tragically, the wandering thoughts of a dying woman. In the opening scene the audience is introduced to the Doctor, who Granny considers a mortal enemy as she yells, ”Get along now. Take your school books and go. There’s nothing wrong with me!” The reader quickly identifies the conflict in the narrative: Granny is a very sick person who refuses to believe that anything is physiologically wrong with her. As the plot thickens, Granny’s health continues to dwindle but the audience transcends time and explores the memories of Granny’s previous years. As one jumps from memory to memory, it becomes obvious that Granny’s self-denial is rooted in something more deeply than a physical longing for immortality. At the root of her condescending attitude towards the doctor is a memory that haunts her: the empty altar where she was ‘jilted’ by that runaway groom George! As the narrative presses on Granny hurls insults at her daughter, which is symbolic of the inner war that is raging. It’s like her mind is in a wrestling match to push out that awful memory and replace it with memories of her husband and children. Finally at a climatic point in the story she expresses her desire to see this runaway groom once again, but only to say, “I forgot all about you.” I almost laughed when I read this line because it’s clear that she never has forgotten George. What is clear is that She’s in denial about the shame she feels. She’s in denial about the emptiness that haunts her heart. She’s in denial that anything is wrong. She doesn’t need a doctor, she’s perfectly fine.
Tax collector. The term was vulgar in first century Jerusalem. Public enemy number one and deemed unforgivable by the religious leaders; this is Levi. I have often thought what ran through Levi’s mind that day when Jesus locked eyes with Him and said, Follow me. Scripture doesn’t reveal this but I am curious if Levi heard the conversation between the Pharisees and Jesus in the previous passage (See Luke 5:17-26). Had he stood watching the paralytic being let down through the roof only to watch Him walk out the front door? The man deemed unforgivable by society locking eyes with the only person who had the authority to forgive him. That’s powerful, and so is Levi’s response: and leaving everything, he rose and followed him. Factoid: His position as tax collector would be gone the next day. Levi had nothing to come back to. This was an all-in for the rest of your life deal. Jesus called Levi to a permanent change of life. Notice Levi wasn’t burdened by this, instead he had a party. Because the call to repentance for Levi was a gracious invitation. By faith Levi left that tax booth behind and believed that Jesus would make him new. The point is that Granny Weatherall despised the idea of healing because she was in denial about her physical health. Self-righteous people despise the concept of repentance because they are in denial about their spiritual health. Self-righteous people live in a state of denial. Friends the question from Luke you must wrestle with is one of sickness and health, one of Pharisee or Levi. If by the grace of God you can see the tax booth your sitting in then repentance is not a burden, but a gift. The call of Christ becomes a gracious invitation. For all of you tax collectors out there, Jesus is calling you out of your tax booth. He is calling you to repentance because He has the power to make you new.