September 18, 2014

The Gospel Today

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 7: 36-50

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?”
Simon said in reply,
“The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”
He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Reflection (Sem. Neil Pagalan):

In Ignatian prayer, begging for the grace is most central. It highlights the person’s humility and desire for a particular grace. Ignatius invites a person to do this basically because God respects human freedom so much. It is true that God knows us and our every need but He waits for us to actually ask and beg for it. God desires that we desire it first before He gives it to us. And begging for the grace is a form of prayer in itself.

Have you ever noticed that when you stop in an intersection because the traffic light is on red and all of a sudden, a barrage of beggars, merchandisers, and street children would eagerly march and knock at your car window? They either wipe your windshield, even if it is already tidy clean, sell all sorts of stuff you do not need or simply beg for money or food.  Sometimes, they can be very annoying and sometimes, they can be very insisting.

In a way, begging for the grace is something like what these beggars, merchandisers, and street children do – knock, beg, and insist. Begging for the grace is having the disposition of these people – eager, humble, and desirous. Notice also that it is in these people’s eagerness, humility and desire that you cannot but hand them a few coins. If we can do this to beggars, merchandisers or street children to whom we do not know, how much more for God who loves us dearly and who has counted each strand of our hair. God cannot but give it to us and of course, if it is really what we need. We remember too, that God’s grace is also given in His own perfect time. Just like what Jesus did in today’s Gospel, He was moved with compassion and love to the eagerness, humility, and desire of the woman who begged for forgiveness and mercy.

Like the sinful woman, we pray that we may be eager, humble, and desirous as we beg for God’s grace.

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