Thursday, October 31, 2019

HCD: The Return of the Duo

On Sunday October 27, 2019 I received a text message from Angel Delallana informing me that her flight had just landed at Tucson International Airport. That meant it was time to pack my family in the car and head off to pick up my partner in Humana Corpus Dignitate as we were going to spend some time with her that day before her and I would spend that evening finalizing different parts of the presentation we were going to share at my job the following day. That presentation was titled The Mindful Life and we were going to share this talk on Mental Health in Adolescents for the junior and senior theology classes at Saint Augustine Catholic High School here in Tucson, AZ.

Two weeks prior we were in Carson, CA, the town of my upbringing as well as Angel's hometown as we presented an Introduction to the Theology of the Body to both middle school students and Confirmation candidates. Now Angel was coming to what had now been my home for the past thirteen years with both of being excited to have the opportunity to . We were both really excited because this was our second time working together in the past two weeks and that's a lot considering the fact that we both work and are raising families in separate states!

On a personal note it also gave Angel a chance to see members of my family for the first time in over ten years. The last time she saw my wife and kids was at a local eatery during one of our trips back to Carson. Now she would see my family after years of growth and change. My wife was now a K-8 school principal with my kids now being in both high school and middle school.  I was really looking forward to this because I have had a chance to spend some time with her family on multiple trips to CA earlier this year so I wanted her to have the same opportunity once she found her way to my neck of the woods.

We started our time together showing her both the St. Augustine Cathedral as well as the San Xavier de Bac Mission, which gave her a chance to see some of the history of the Catholic Church in Tucson while the two of us took the time to take some pictures at some beautiful spots. We then spent some time having a late lunch in order to catch up on things before we all went back to my house for some rest and relaxation. Later that evening Angel and I worked on some last moment preparations for the following day before turning our attention to some other things that we had been working on a few weeks prior to her.

The following day Angel joined my kids and myself on our morning drive to school as she got a taste of my morning commute. We arrived to St. A's, met some of the staff and then checked her in. Then it was time to get to work. Most of the presentations took place in my classroom and it was non-stop for six straight periods. The students were very receptive to the material, even when it got a little heavy because they are used to my teaching style. I say that because I saw more than ever how similar Angel and I are when it comes to delivering the material. We are both willing to go there while also allowing students to ask questions with the intention of giving them a solid answer. In our case, Angel dug deep on issues from bullying to suicide with my jumping in later to speak both of how Christians should be handling those who are suffering from mental illness while showing both the progress that the Church has made along with how much more we have to do. (Short excerpt of The Mindful Life:

To be honest, I could see a big difference from two weeks ago. First off, we took a critical eye at our presentation back in CA within days of me returning home and made whatever changes needed to be made. Second, we were both even more comfortable working together and as the day went on we could feel the improvement of both our flow as well as our interactions. Even then we still made a few changes between presentations as both of us are more or less never done when it comes to the things that we create as we always seem to find a way to make it better.

We ended the day heading back to my place in order to have dinner with my wife before we spent some time interviewing her for a future podcast that we're currently putting together in order to expand our audience. We felt that it went really well and look forward to releasing it some time soon. Aside from that we also let her watch a video of one of our presentations in order to get her feedback since she is a principal whose job is to observe teachers from time to time. She had some great insights to offer, which we took note of in order to make even more improvements to our joint presentation.

Once everything we finished Angel called home with my wife and I having a chance to video chat with her boys. I was really moved by the way they spoke to me as I always enjoyed their company. Aside from that, I had a chance to see them interact with my wife as she finally got a chance to see how cute and funny they are. Angel and I are both looking forward to the moment when we can finally spend some time with our families together with members of our families feeling the same way.  

On a very personal note I can say that I am very satisfied with the start of actually working with a partner on such an endeavor. This is something I thought I would never do because I am not one who likes to work with others on important projects due to so many past disappointments. In most cases I would rather fail on my own rather than have my success and progress depend on the efforts of others. Taking on this task with Angel has actually been rather eye opening to say the least and it's more than just the leap of faith I took once we saw the potential in what we could do together.

For years I have seen her passion for her nursing profession but was always impressed with how she saw her work as a duty to both her patients as well as their families while never forgetting that these were also God's children who deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. Aside from that, her faith was something that inspired me as she always wanted others to see the life they could really live if they were just willing to open themselves to God's grace. That and the passion she had to share this faith others while she was in the midst of work and raising a family.

Once I saw that I was really excited to move forward with HCD as I saw someone whose drive was similar to mine who really goes after things once she sets her mind to it. Aside from that, she is someone who will really push me when it comes to both pulling my weight and in the constant task of having to update and improve all that I do for this ministry. She is very honest yet supportive with the way she offers her observations and suggestions so I know that any insight she has to offer is with the intention of helping this ministry move forward while also believing in what we stand for as her behavior towards me totally reflects our philosophy as a ministry.  

In her I have found a true partner and I am grateful to be on this journey with her.  And right off the bat we already know that we are not alone as we already have the support of our families as well as those who have graciously kept us in their prayers.

Carlos Solorzano 
BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach 
Certified through the Theology of the Body Institute 
Co-founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate

Saturday, October 19, 2019

An Exploration of Purgatory

One of the most misunderstood teachings of the Roman Catholic Church is the one on Purgatory. Many Catholics themselves do not fully understand this teaching and of course many false claims have been made by non-Catholics in terms of the origin and meaning of this doctrine. In this discussion we will take an in depth look at this teaching from a variety of sources while reflecting on some ideas that may further clarify what this teaching is all about.

What is Purgatory? 

For many the idea of an intermediary state between this life and heaven almost seems to personally offend them as the God of love could not possibly have created anything in the afterlife for the just other than heaven. Unfortunately, such people fail to see that the existence of purgatory is not a belief in God's lack of ability to save us but is in fact another reality of a loving and merciful God that continues to find a way to save us due to the various ways that we lack the holiness required to be in His presence.

Purgatory comes from the Lain word "purgare," which means to make clean or to purify. As stated by the New Advent website: "It is a place or condition of temporal pubishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions."

Notice the choice of words: place or condition. Part of knowing God and His will is to recognize that much of what we actually know about either is in fact a mystery, which is a word that the Church is not afraid to use in her own official documents because after all, how do finite beings understand an infinite God? However, the Church does teach that there is in fact a reality for those who do not merit the immediate privilege of heaven who are also not in a state of permanent condemnation.

What is this lack of perfection? 1 John 5:17 tells us that, "All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly." This is certainly referring to those venial faults that were cited earlier that, while leaving us in an imperfect state do not keep us from the hope of the Resurrection.

Karl Keating tells us that: "In purgatory all remaining love of self is transformed into love of God. At death one's soul goes to heaven, if it is completely fit for heaven; to purgatory, if it is not quite fit for heaven, but not worthy of condemnation; or to hell, it it is completely unfit for heaven. Purgatory is a temporary state. Everyone who enters will get to heaven, and, after the last soul leaves purgatory for heaven, purgatory will cease to exist."

The reality is that there are those that are not in a perfect state, which should not surprise any of us since we live in a world tainted by original sin. Further, Catholics also believe that salvation, as stated by Keating, depends on the state of the soul at death. In other words, our salvation is not based on answering an altar call. Life itself is not about important moments that supposedly define us because we still have to live our lives after such moments and/or we are also experiencing other aspects of our lives that are unknown to those who witnessed one of what many call defining moments at a specific time and place that still do not tell our full story.

According to Alan Schreck, "Purgatory is a sign of God's mercy on those who have honestly sought to know God and to do His will in this life, and yet who die in some degree of bondage to sin or the effects of sin." This is of course an absolutely possibility, which is why Jesus said in Luke 12:59, "I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny." Such and idea would only be a threat to a person who dies in a state of mortal sin.

Why is this so? Why can't God just free us from our sins and allow us to be in His presence? Such a question is asked if we think that our salvation is all about us when we forget that we have a relationship with God. With that in mind, we must also think of the reality of God and why our sinful state, regardless of our level of corruption, does in fact, require a state of purification.

As stated by Schreck, we must be fully cleansed, "Because of God's holiness. Sin and God are diametrically opposed. God is so pure, so holy, that nothing impure or sinful can enter into His presence (see Revelation 21:27). Sin is burned away by God's holiness, by His anger against sin, and by His love of the repentant sinner, for our God is a consuming fire ( see Hebrews 12:29). Purgatory means that as a person is drawn nearer to God and finally drawn into the fully glory of His presence, the remaining sin in a person's life is just burned away by the consuming fire of God's hatred of sin and His love for the one bound to it. Sin is purged because it cannot exist in the presence of the all-holy God."

Such a reality is not something we have not seen before. As Schreck says, "The doctrine of purgatory is related to Isaiah's experience" (See Isaiah 6:1-3). After having a vision of God on his throne Isaiah states: Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it, 'See,' he said. 'now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin is purged.'

There is a reason why there are images with fire with purgatory is because, as Schreck says, "purgation is painful but also cleansing and purifying. This is not an unfamiliar idea; even in this life we experience pain when God breaks us from patterns of sin."

Forgiveness After Death? 

Many Christians reject the idea that sins can be forgiven after death because they continue to attach themselves to what they see as that defining moment of salvation. What's most interesting about this teaching is when we become aware of a born again Christian who later in life commits a very serious sin. At that moment if the reality of their salvation is in fact challenged the response is usually that they were never really saved. How can this be if they did the same thing that the other saved people did by answering the preacher's altar call? Or, does this show that we in fact don't know a person's heart based only on what we see, which is why God is not only the judge of that person but also the source of their purification regardless of whether it happens in this life or the next one?

Instead of splitting hairs over this why don't we simply look at the bible to see if in fact a person can be forgiven of some sins after death.

In Matthew 12:31 Jesus says, "...whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit (the sin of attributing to Satan what is the work of the Spirit of God) will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."  To unfold this teaching a bit more, Dave Armstrong tells us that, " is clear that Jesus is presupposing that there are other sins that are forgiven after death." Further, Armstrong states that, if the forgiveness of sins after death was a categorical impossibility then, "He (Jesus) would have never mentioned even its theoretical potentiality. He simply wouldn't bring it up at all. He doesn't teach falsehood, being God and omniscient."

One final point is that in searching through many Protestant bibles it is fascinating to see that many of the editors have removed the portion that states in this age or in the age to come. Is this perhaps an alteration to the text to fit a theological agenda? It is one thing to base one's teaching on a different translation but to remove a portion of the text  that is supposed to be the Word of God is most disturbing.

We can see now see that the claim that the Catholic Church's teaching on purgatory not being found in the bible is in fact false. While there is no direct statement about it from Jesus, the patriarchs or the prophets we must understand that doing theology is more than finding a statement from the bible, interpreting it our own way and then creating a theology around it. It is true that Jesus did not stand on Mount Sinai and say, "Blessed are those who believe that purgatory exists." However, it is a biblical fact that He did speak of the reality of some sins that are forgiven after death.

The belief of such was also very well known by many of the early Church Fathers, which is why many of them encouraged Christians to pray for the dead. This included individuals such as Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine (whose own mother asked for him to offer Masses for her after she passed away), Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom and Pope Gregory the Great. Meanwhile, Schreck tells us that 4th century Christian Gregory of Nyssa wrote that, "after the departure from the body (a soul that is not purified)...will not be able to participate in divinity, unless the cleansing fire will have purged away all stains of the soul." This is also why there was also a prayer by St. John of Chrysostom that Schreck tells us says, Let us pray also for the repose of the souls of the departed servants of God and for the forgiveness of their every transgression, deliberate and indeliberate." All of this seems to go with quite well with the canonical status given by the Roman Catholic Church to the Old Testament book of 2 Maccabees, which is not included in the Protestant canon. A key statement from this book says that we should, pray for the dead that they might be loosed from their sins (12:46)

As Schreck says, "Praying for the dead makes sense only if those prayers can benefit the dead." This could only make sense with the existence of purgatory because as Keating says, "Prayers are not needed by those in heaven, and they cannot help those in hell. That means some people must be in a third place, at least temporarily."

In conclusion, we can see first that the bible does in fact speak of sins that can be forgiven after death. We also see the practice of early Christians acting on behalf of those in a purgative state with their prayers. So, if we are looking for someone to best to guide us on the validity of this practice should we look to those who participated in what was obviously a regular practice during the early days of the Church, which was closer to the time period when Jesus spoke of this teaching? Or, do we look to those who came centuries later who were already participating in a practice to remove things from the their own faith expressions that they identified as too Roman Catholic? Either way, regardless of how one wants to interpret scripture they cannot say that the belief in praying for the dead as well as the belief in purgatory that goes with this practice is not without biblical reference.

Carlos Arthur Solorzano 
  • BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach  
  • Certified through the Theology of the Body Institute  
  • Instructor of Theology at St. Augustine Catholic High School 
  • Co-founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate   


Friday, October 18, 2019

Adolescent and Abortion: Speaking on a controversial topic to young, curious minds

If there was one topic I could say I was nervous of speaking about, it would be abortion.  With the political climate surrounding it, the issues of rights, it could be a hot button for many people.  It wasn't necessarily a fear of being bombarded and attacked for my pro-life views, but rather the fear of speaking in a way that made others feel belittled for their own views and situations.

Being an adolescent nowadays is so different from even 20 years ago.  Back then, there wasn't information overload.  There was no, "I'll just Google it."  It took more effort than a push of a button to gain knowledge and learn facts.  That is not the case anymore.  The issue is that not only are the facts more readily available, but so, too, are distorted views and opinions.  What is more, the media has an easier reach into the minds of these young people.  Four to five words of a phrase on a photograph of the alleged speaker is not giving the context of the subject matter, nor the circumstances surrounding the issue.  It becomes a list of idioms with no context passed on to millions of people with a single click.  It gives such a keyhole point of view of a larger picture hidden behind the walls, but no one wants to open that door, walk into the room and look at it the way it's supposed to be seen.

I was asked by one of my former theology teachers to speak to the 9th-12th grade students at my Alma mater.  The week leading up to it was a stressful one.  There was some apprehension by some in the department regarding how the students would react to the presentation as some had previously experienced talks on the subject that was less than appealing and some talks to be rather offensive. Opinions were voiced, and perhaps some protestation as to why they are being forced to listen.

Knowing that the key was my medical background, I put as much evidence-based medical and scientific facts into the presentation as I could, while tying in Church teachings and scripture. The key in anything nowadays is empowerment.  The thing I kept enforcing was choices.  The example was heroin, how even though it is illegal, there are those who continue to do it anyway and are addicted to it.  Whether a thing is legal or not, we all still have a choice to make when we are faced with the situation.  This is why, from the beginning, I opened each talk acknowledging that this is a tough subject, to set their political opinions aside for a minute and be mindful and respectful of one another.

They were given examples of how their decisions could affect them in the future, providing personal testimonies, not just from stories people in my own life, but stories in other resources and ministries.  I showed them examples of pro-life advocates whose lives could have been ended by abortions.  Still, I needed them to understand this is a moral dilemma, one that faces me, someone who is pro-life, having to care for those who have made or are considering making the decision of abortion and treat them with dignity in my field.  Although the Church is steadfast in their stance on the sacredness of life from the moment of conception, that both Saint John Paul II (sec. 58, para. 4) and Pope Francis (sec. 12, para. 1) have acknowledged the emotional and psychological weight of this decision, as well as the need for forgiveness.

As I knew there would be, a few challenged me.  But their challenges helped strengthen my points as I realized what I needed to further explain or restate in a way that could speak to the audience better.  In the end, they were grateful.  They were grateful for the information.  Girls especially responded well, with a few thanking me.  What it made me realize was they just want to know.  They want facts, not have someone hammering them with opinions.  And those who did challenge me, I tried to listen as best I could, acknowledged them for their own views, but presented a different perspective with facts.  Gone are the days of "because I said so."  Young people will challenge rules and ask "why".  And unless it makes sense to them, they're not going to care.  They need to be able to relate to what is being told to them, making it relevant in their lives.  They need hard evidence and logical explanations.  They also need to see their own value and to feel valued.

The very last thing I emphasized was how Jesus was the example of how much God valued humanity by sending his only begotten son in the form of an innocent child, growing in the womb of a woman from conception to birth, and to grow into a man.  Then to sacrifice himself for the sake of our sins out of love for us, God shows how much he truly valued the humans he created.  In the end, the experience, though daunting in the beginning, strengthened my belief, my faith, and most of all my faith in the future generations.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Bringing it Together: The Debut of the HCD Duo

It was the week of my fall break from work and I was excited because I was going to be leaving my home state to return to the place of my birth and upbringing to share what I had been teaching up until this point only in my hometown of Tucson, AZ. For the past several years I have been a student and later an instructor of Pope St. John Paul the II's  Theology of the Body. Most of my work has been at the schools where I have worked for the past several years along with many of the local feeder schools and parishes for various ministries.

One recent change was that I no longer did these talks as an independent speaker. I had recently co-founded Humana Corpus Dignitate (HCD is the short version) with Nurse Practitioner Angel Delallana who is also a Catechist at St. Philomena Catholic Church in Carson, CA. Our objective is to share the teachings of the Catholic faith with a strong emphasis on the dignity of the human person by bringing theological teachings and medical knowledge together in order to offer a deeper understanding of all of the Church's teachings. Even though we live in neighboring states we had already started to collaborate on many of our non-speaking projects from creating a website, writing blogs, creating active social media sites while making other plans for the future. Up until now we had yet to do a talk together so we were very excited to have a chance to share our Introduction to the Theology of the Body presentation to multiple groups of young people. 

It began on the afternoon October 9th when we were invited to speak at St. Philip Neri Catholic School in Lynwood, CA. This place had many special memories for me because I had taught there over 20 years ago. Angel and I were welcomed by all of the teachers and staff members who were very excited to see what we had to share with their students. The place had changed so much yet retained so much of the beauty that I remembered so I was really excited about having a chance to share our presentation at such a special place.

One of the nice things that happened prior to the beginning of our talk was when school principal Alexandra Gonzalez showed us around the school. That also included a chance for me to go back into my old classroom, which brought back a lot of great memories. The biggest surprise though was when the teacher invited me to answer some questions from the students, which gave me a chance to time travel a bit as I was now standing in a familiar place doing something I had done over twenty years ago.

We eventually made our way to the hall in order to begin our presentation and had a great time speaking to a group of enthusiastic young people. Angel and I had a good flow together as we went back and forth on our designated sections with power point visuals behind us to accentuate all that we had prepared to share. What meant the most to both of us was that the students responded with questions and comments that showed a real interest in what we were sharing with them.

It was a real exciting time for me because I had the chance to share this beautiful teaching in a new yet familiar location for me. I did not become a student of the Theology of the Body until I had relocated to the Tucson area so my time as a teacher at St. Philip was long before I attended my first course at the Theology of the Body Institute. Further, my time at St. Philip Neri School was when I was still in my early years as a teacher so to return as a veteran teacher of 24 years was a whole new experience.

Later that day we arrived to St. Philomena Catholic Church in Carson, CA to lead the same talk for the year one Confirmation candidates. This is Angel's home parish where she also teaches Confirmation so she was in a very familiar setting. It was familiar to me as well since I grew up in Carson and have a lot of memories at this parish so it was exciting to see both the familiar sites along with many of the changes that have occurred over the years.

The room was full as we had a much bigger audience than we had earlier that day. Along with Director Justin Fontenot, Catechists and other adults leaders we also had over a hundred Confirmation candidates in front of us so we were excited to have this opportunity to work together for such a large audience. The presentation went well. We received many compliments from many who were in attendance but it still gave us a lot to reflect on in terms of what we presented and how we presented it. So we spent some time reflecting on our presentation in order to see what we could improve on right now.

We had that chance the following day as we shared the same presentation for the year two Confirmation candidates.  Right away we saw a different response to our approach as the two rounds from the previous day gave us a sense of comfort that we didn't have just twenty four hours ago. We had a better flow and read each other in a much better way. The response this evening was even better so we were more than encouraged to say the least.

With our ministry consisting of two people from two different states we know that it will always be challenging when we work together since we are both teachers who are used to working alone both at our daily places of employment as well as the presentations we do for HCD in out hometowns on our own. Still, we made the effort to seize the moment and then make improvements after each opportunity we had to work together so we know that our work is just beginning.

We were blessed to have both the administration of St. Philip Neri School and the adult leaders at St. Philomena Catholic Church already request that we return for future presentations. This was what we hoped and prayed for as the beginning of this ministry came from both of us feeling the call to share what we know in order to give people a vision of the abundant life that God has in store of them. We will continue to work hard on all of our projects and pray for the graces to lead us to where we are most needed in order to answer our call to share the Good News of the Gospel.

Carlos Solorzano
BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach
Certified through the Theology of the Body Institute
Co-founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Reflections on The Pardon of the Sinful Woman from Luke 7:36-50

One of the best biblical stories to demonstrate how Jesus acknowledged the dignity of another person is the story of the Sinful Woman from Luke's Gospel. The two main characters who encounter Jesus are the Sinful Woman as well as Simon, the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner . If we look carefully though the title is a bit misleading because the further we get in the story we in fact see that both characters are sinners and Jesus will minister to both of them.

Once the Sinful Woman enters Simon's home we get a glimpse of the intention that both of them have with Jesus. Simon's reaction is one of disgust because as we see in verse 39 he is only focused on what he calls the type of woman that is touching Jesus. Yes, she is a sinner but unfortunately that is all that Simon sees regardless of her actions towards our Lord.

As Luke the evangelist tells us: "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 ointment" (7:37-38). The woman is completely overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus that she takes on, as stated in Matthew Henry's Commentary, the role of a maidservant when she washes Jesus' feet with her tears. However, it goes beyond that. As she anoints his feet with oil her actions state clearly who Jesus was in front of the Simon, who has already expressed his suspicion of Jesus. In the ancient world, to anoint a person or a thing was to make the person of the object sacred. Kings were anointed to invest them with power as well as those who were consecrated for a holy purpose.

In her action, the Sinful Woman actually gives Jesus all that she had. As William Barclay says, "Round her neck, she wore, like all Jewish women, a little phial of concentrated perfume; they were called alabasters; and they were very costly. She wished to pour it on His feet , for it was all she had to offer. But as she saw Him the tears came and fell upon His feet. For a Jewish woman to appear with her hair unbound was an act of the gravest immodesty. On her wedding day a girl bound up her hair and never would she appear with it unbound again. The fact that this woman loosened her long hair in public showed how she had forgotten everyone except Jesus" (p. 95) 

How did she get to this point? What did she see in Jesus at that moment that led her to act in such a way? What would cause a person to enter someone's home as an uninvited guest that couldn't wait until later?. Further, she had to know how Simon and the others would see her once she made her presence known so what did she see in Jesus that gave her the confidence to act in this way? According to Barclay, "No doubt she had listened to Jesus speak from the edge of the crowd and had glimpsed in Him the hand that could lift her from the mire of her ways (p. 95)."

An interesting thought to add to this is the fact that a Jewish woman would never appear in public with her hair unbound. That would mean that the only man who would see them in this way were their husbands. This could lead us see a deeper image of the Bride of Christ, which we know to be the Church. Take this comment from the website What Every Catholic Should Know:

"The Holy Scriptures state that the Bride of Christ or Body of Christ is comprised of those who are born again into a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).  

The Sinful Woman is certainly a part of the Church and she has not only received Jesus in the most personal way but is offering herself both in action and appearance to our Lord.. This could bring to mind the idea of a woman standing at the altar as she exchanges her wedding vows with her husband. Think of the love and trust that she has for him. This Sinful Woman who Simon saw as an outcast actually recognized the presence of God more than the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner.

We see in the Sinful Woman someone who is certainly born again whose faith helped her acknowledge with her actions the identity of Jesus. This, according to the Collegeville Bible Commentary, displayed the great love that she had before she could show it, which means that she did in fact accept the hand that lifted her out of the mire of her ways as Jesus showed her the dignity she already had as a person before He stated that her sins were forgiven.

In the spirit of a mutual relationship we also see that  Jesus was also moved by her gesture that many could see as awkward and humiliating. Jesus being the One who sees us for who we really are, who also knew what Simon was thinking of the Sinful Woman at the moment of her appearance, also knew the heart and intention of the Sinful Woman during her humble gesture.

Jesus words following her gesture further identified the dignity of this woman that Simon failed to see. While Simon focused on the type of woman she was Jesus says, "Do you see this woman?" (verse 44). The key word here is see as Simon saw everything but the person that the Sinful Woman really was. To Jesus, this woman still had value and was worthy of respect. This should remind us that it was in fact her sins as well as the sins of the rest of humanity that caused the Divine Physician to come and heal the sick (Mark 2:17). One who is ill is in fact suffering and our loving and merciful God would certainly want to show them how to live their life more abundantly (John 10:10.

This story shows us the two opportunities we have as followers of Jesus. We can be like the Sinful Woman and recognize who He is and why He is here for us and go to Him knowing that He will receive us for who we are. Or, we can be like Simon who being a Pharisee certainly knew the tenets of his faith but did not know how to live it out the right way.

Carlos Arthur Solorzano
  • BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach  
  • Certified through the Theology of the Body Institute  
  • Instructor of Theology at St. Augustine Catholic High School 
  • Co-founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate   

  • The New American Bible (footnotes p. 1105)
  • Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke: Revised Edition. The Westminster Press Philadelphia, PA 1975
  • McKenzie, John L. Dictionary of the Bible Macmillan Publishing CO. Inc. Collier Macmillan Publishers London, England 1965 
  • Edited by: Paul J. Achtemeir. Harper's Bible Dictionary Harper San Francisco 1985 
  • Edited by Dianne Bergant & Robert J. Karris. The Collegeville Bible Commentary The Liturgical Press Collegeville, Minnesota 1989 (p. 951) 
  • Edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer & Roland E. Murphy. The Jerome Biblical Commentary Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey (p. 138)
  • Edited by Rev. Leslie F. Church. Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary Zondervan Publishing House in Grand Rapids, Michigan1961 (p. 1436)