Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

When I made my annual retreat after my first year away from the novitiate, I did so under a wise old Jesuit whom I had known from day one in the order. As I began the retreat, he made sure to admonish me that “all prayer begins with gratitude.” We receive a gift, and when we are grateful, we have a natural desire to thank the giver. So with God, we recognize those blessings and gifts we have from Him, and quite naturally wish to speak with Him, if only to say “thank you.”

This gratitude to God is something Jesus encourages in today’s gospel. He tells Simon the Pharisee that when one is forgiven of much, one has much to be grateful for–just as the sinful woman who came to Jesus was grateful. We would do well first of all to remember that we are not so different from the woman. In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius encourages us to consider “one who went to Hell for one mortal sin [and] countless others who have been lost for fewer sins than I have committed.” The woman who comes to Jesus is overjoyed because her sins have been forgiven, and she has gained the possibility of heaven. Whatever our own sins are and have been, we are in the same boat as her. Let us pray today to know how God has shown His mercy to us in our sins, and to be grateful for the gift of salvation He has offered us.

September 18th, 2014