It has been months since our batch finished the 30-day Ignatian retreat, and yet even now, I can still recognize many blessings and graces of the retreat happening in my life and vocation journey. I continue to experience God truly present and alive in moments of prayer and solitude in our formation this year. I am so much indebted to that spiritual experience where I was able to acknowledge my sinfulness before Him. One thing I learned from the retreat was that every person has a unique experience of God and of His love. Each of us is a beloved of God; I know God does not have favorites.
Today’s Gospel is a testament to this overflowing of love that God has offered me. Like the sinful woman, I felt during our retreat that what I was seeking is totally out of reach; yet Jesus told me to pray and pray more, and I realized that God is never outdone in generosity. What did I seek? Forgiveness and peace of mind. What did I do? I just offered everything that was in me – my whole being, my warts and all. And, what did God do? He healed me from this inability to forgive myself. He gave me faith and the assurance that He is now in control of me. I finished the retreat full of gratitude to that immense gift of peace, forgiveness, and acceptance.
When we are loved by God, we do not have control over it. Before I went to the retreat, I was bombarded with the question, “My God, why me?” And I found the answer in my life history and in my vocation journey. It was such a humbling experience. Humility is always the response to the mystery of being loved. This explains why the forgiven woman loves the greatest. This explains why the greatest lovers and saints were before the greatest sinners.
By: Sem. Keith R. Buenaventura
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.”