Prayer and meditation enable me to be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit around, and within me.
It is always through the experiences of Jesus Christ in the Scripture that we are able to better attune ourselves to the “ways of God” working in and around us. It is easy, so easy, to misinterpret, and misjudge (even rashly, given the condition of our soul life) what is really going on. Simon, the Pharisee would be a prime example of this action.
This Sunday’s Word addresses three different human phenomena through which the Spirit of God actively works.
I summarize these phenomena in today’s readings as awkwardness, acceptance of the unpredictable, and the willingness to act as a buffer in the midst of painful acting out which can occur in difficult moments. Can you place yourself in these three phenomena? The Spirit of God is at work in all three. Responding to the genuine expression of sincere sorrow and amends, the woman wants to express herself as personally and intimately as she is able. Jesus accepts the reality as it unfolds before him, understanding the sensitivity and the awkwardness of the moment, and at the same time wanting to respect this dramatic gesture of love by defending it boldly with the confrontation toward His judgmental host. And then, he has the willingness to “stand in there” between the repentant and the recalcitrant, respecting the place from where each person is coming; the woman’s need for healing, and the host’s defensiveness of his selfishness.
To grasp this is to accept the bottom line reality that my life is sustained by a loving Creator-God in a relationship with the one Who gave His life for me, and the one who continues to energize me with a Spirit of doing the same for others, intentionally and habitually. The phenomena of awkwardness, acceptance of the unpredictable and the buffering of the painful acting out which can occur in hostile or inhospitable circumstances are all ways in which the Spirit of God can work. The more I am able to look back (reflectare, a form of prayer) and realize how God is at work, the more I am able to mediate the loving, healing, compassion of Christ’s Spirit.
A question I ask myself: To whom will I offer welcome today? Will I be stingy and judgmental or will I give of myself lovingly to all whom I meet?
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president emeritus of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.