23 October 2022 – 30th Sunday (C)

23 October 2022 – 30th Sunday (C)

(1) Sirach/ Ecclesiasticus 35:15-22

The prayer of the humble will reach to the clouds

The Lord is the judge,
and with him there is no partiality.
He will not show partiality to the poor;
but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.
He will not ignore the supplication of the orphan,
or the widow when she pours out her complaint.
Do not the tears of the widow run down her cheek
as she cries out against the one who causes them to fall?
The one whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted,
and his prayer will reach to the clouds.
The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds,
and it will not rest until it reaches its goal;
it will not desist until the Most High responds
and does justice for the righteous and executes judgment.
Indeed, the Lord will not delay,

Responsorial: Psalm 32:2-3, 17-19, 23

R./: The Lord hears the cry of the poor

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad. (R./)

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The just call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress. (R./)

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
Those who hide in him shall not be condemned. (R./)

(2) 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Paul has fought the good fight and will receive the crown of glory

I am already being poured out as a libation and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

Two men went up to the temple to pray; two contrasting approaches to God

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”


A Humbled Heart

Opposites Attract: In marriage and other human relationships we often notice how two unlike personalities complement each other, like the positive and negative sides of a magnetic field. One partner shows a natural flair for leadership and the other is happy to follow that lead, at least in many areas. Among ourselves, the taking of initiatives will be shared back and forth of course, neither partner being fully passive with respect to the other; but with God there is only one proper relationship: he is the powerful giver and we the dependent receivers.

This weakness on our side, this dependency towards our Creator and Father, is in fact our way to peace. As Paul so clearly saw: “when I am weak, then am I strong; I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (2 Cor. 12:10; Phil. 4:13.) The apostles attributed all their abilities and successes (cures, conversions) to the power of God, working through them. Only when we are humble in God’s presence can he do great things in us, as Our Lady so well declares, “He casts the mighty from their thrones and exalts the lowly.”

People often feel awkward about regarding humility as a virtue at all. Is it really a good thing to feel small? Or does it harm our ego and our self-confidence. Perhaps the word “humble” is too often misused, applied without much thought to dwellings that are shoddy or neglected, to efforts that are half-hearted failures and to characters who adopt a pose of false modesty in order to win approval.

Genuine humility is simply recognising the essential truth about ourselves. It is honest self-appraisal, in God’s presence, with no pretences, masks or poses. Iin the presence of the all-holy, all-powerful God each of us knows himself/herself as weak, imperfect and indeed sinful; and with this we recognise our need for mercy. There is no bribe that we can offer to blot out our guilt. There is no pressure we can exert (as we might among ourselves) to gain a credit we do not deserve. Our best recourse is a humble spirit; this attitude will draw down on us divine mercy and grace. The Publican felt this need for complete honesty, as he stood in the Temple of God. “Lord, be merciful,” he said; and went home with his sins forgiven and with relief in his heart.

On the other hand, what’s wrong with the outlook of this Pharisee, if anything? After all, he leads an admirable life and gives good example within the Jewish tradition. According to his self-appraisal, he kept all the rules, from fasting and almsgiving to honesty and purity. There was real effort there, a commitment to holiness within his tradition. But his virtues made him to forget that he remained weak and sinful, like other people. His sense of punctilious holiness took the place of prayer. He goes so far as to despise others, while giving thanks for his own merits. And by this attitude, he undermines his other virtues. Pride is like a worm, destroying the apple at its core. Indeed, it turns him from speaking to God, to talking about himself. His prayer dies.

This warning may apply to our church’s attitude, towards God and others. In the past, didn’t we sometimes take a stance of collective pride, towards people of other religions? We claimed ours as the fullest expression of Christ’s Church, with the best moral standards and sacramental practice, promoting a visible world-wide bond among believers. We continue to value these things and want to share them with people who are searching for the truth. But we must resist a niggling temptation to look down on outsiders, to disparage their values or under-rate their sincerity? We need to guard against self-righteous Catholicism and sincerely respect other pathways of faith. Leave it to God to judge the merits of other persons and their faiths. It is enough for us to trust in his mercy, recognise our own imperfections and try to live by the spirit of compassion.

Pharisee and Tax Collector

If we could get this story into my heart, we would be helped enormously in our grasp and practice of the gospel. It spells out how to come before God and how not to come before God.

A newly commissioned colonel had just moved into his office, when a private entered with a toolbox. To impress the private, the colonel said “be with you in a moment, soldier! I just got a call as you were knocking.” Picking up the phone, the colonel said “General, it’s you! How can I help you?” A dramatic pause followed. Then the colonel said “No problem. I’ll phone Washington and speak to the President about it.” Putting down the phone, the colonel said to the private “Now, what can I do for you?” The private shuffled his feet and said sheepishly, “Oh, just a little thing, sir. They sent me to hook up your phone’!

My generation were given all the rules and regulations and we were told to remain faithful to those and not deviate in any way and that we would so merit heaven. The religion I had growing up was to keep people from going to hell. Spirituality, on the other hand, is the only thing that frees those who have already been in hell., Ask anybody in recovery from addictions, compulsions, etc. Religion is about externals, it’s what we do and it’s about control. Spirituality, on the other hand, is what God does, it is internal and it’s about surrender.

But the way to holiness is to discover that I’m a bigger sinner than I ever thought I was! The closer I come to God, the more obvious the sin is. It is a long journey from the Pharisee at the front to the tax-collector at the back. It is a journey of repentance and of facing up to the truth. It is a journey that Life will provide if I have the courage and honesty to find it. If I still think that I should be still up at the front with the Pharisee, then my life will be riddled with guilt and I will never find peace.

The tax-collector knew his place before God. God is my Creator, in whom I live and have my being. I am a sinner, and have no right to think myself superior to anyone else. Even the hardened criminal and the beggar on the street are children of God. We should see them with compassion and say to ourselves, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” The Pharisee need not feel superior. He could have been born in different circumstances and become a tax-collector. He would do well to stand with the man at the back of the temple and pray “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

One Comment

  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:
    Proud prayer is dangerous because it cancels all our good works and humble prayer is powerful because it cancels all our sins.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ explains the power of being humble and the danger of being proud in today’s Gospel. God forgot the sins of a humble sinner in a moment and also forgot the good works of a proud person in the same moment. When we are proud, we are full of ourselves. We are not teachable material for God. Only if we are taught by the Holy Spirit, can we walk in the right way. Only if we walk in the right way can we reach the right destination. Otherwise we will think any open door is a God given opportunity and we may venture into it without knowing if it is the correct way for us. When we are humble, the Holy Spirit will whisper His directions to us. Only then we can be successful.

    What is humility?
    Our Jesus says in John 5:30 – “By myself I can do nothing”. Our Lord Jesus Christ says that He Himself cannot do anything on His own. Then is there any good stuff in us without the grace of God? Understanding this truth is humility. When all the good things in us come from God only, then we cannot think less of others. Our Lord Jesus has said, “I have made you the light of the world”. If we see evil in a place we have to be the light there, and not proud to be the light.

    Our Lord Jesus is teaching about pride and humility using a very simple parable. Let us understand the DOs and DO NOTs from this parable of our Lord Jesus Christ:

    DO NOTs from the Pharisee’s prayer:

    1. Do not thank God by putting others down:
    This is a great passage from which we learn that even “Thanksgiving” can be displeasing to God. We always say that we should start the prayer with “Thanksgiving”. With thanksgiving the pharisee started his prayer. But thanksgiving for what? It is thanksgiving that he is not as bad as the other children of God. This hurts God.
    Do we thank God that we are not as bad as our neighbours?

    2. Do not consider yourselves higher than others:
    The Pharisee always thought highly of himself and less of others called as sinners in those days. This causes strife too. Do we consider ourselves better than the people who rob or kill or people who gossip? During one prison ministry Sunday Mass, one priest who was working for the prisoners gave the Homily. In his Homily he told, “Thank your parents, your family, for you did not end up in prison. People are in prison because their situations were bad”. We may have become worse than the prisoners if we had also experienced such bitter situations in our lives.

    The Apostle Paul shows a perfect example on how we should behave when we are tempted to think or to do bad for others in today’s second reading. He says “At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them!” Though everyone deserted him, he did not think low about them. He only prayed for them – “May it not be counted against them!” For his consolation, he focused on what God did for him. He says “God stood by him”.

    There are many temptations for us to think low about others. God has placed us in a good position only to help others, not to think low about them.

    3. Do not be proud of all the good works:
    The Pharisee started counting and boasting about all the good works and sacrifices he had done. God rejected it. When Abraham sacrificed the lamb to God, God accepted it. Why? Abraham believed and knew that it is God who gave even the lamb for the sacrifice. Pride makes even good works look bad.
    The Bible says that the man’s greatest intelligence is much lesser than the foolishness of God (1 Corinthians 1:25). Great example is our Lord’s explaining the greatest truths with small parables. We will be much happier when we rely on God’s intelligence rather than our intelligence alone.

    4. Do not forget our sins:
    The Pharisee forgot all the sins he had committed at least through the past week. There was no mention of any of the sins he had committed. There was no contrition in his heart for his sins. His pride had blinded his sins.

    5. Do not be judgemental:
    The pharisee was judgemental towards the tax collector. Pride is the cause of the judgemental attitude. It results in strife. As I was writing this homily, I remembered a lady who would call if any help was needed. Other times she would not care about pouring harsh words on others. I immediately started scolding her in my mind. But then I realised, I was judgemental. Maybe she did not have a good cultured family background. She needed someone to live a fruitful life in front of her. Not someone who is judgemental towards her.

    DO’s from Tax collector’s prayer:

    1. Do repent for our sins:
    The Pharisee looked at Heaven and prayed. But God did not look at him. The tax collector did not even lift up his eyes to look at Heaven. Still God looked at him. Why? Because when the Pharisee prayed, he boasted about himself. So his prayer could not go far. But when the tax collector confessed his sins, his prayers reached Heaven instantaneously.

    2. Do simple prayer with faith:
    The tax collector did not say much but from the bottom of His heart He repented. He just repeated “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Whenever he repeated that, he was saying it wholeheartedly. This is a great message for all of us. When we pray, are we praying from the bottom of our hearts?
    The Rosary is a simple prayer to Mamma Mary. It places us happily in her motherly care.

    3. Do acknowledge your faith:
    The tax collector believed that he was in the presence of God in the temple. He did not feel bad that in the presence of others he was beating his breast with his head bowed down and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ He was not focussed on what others thought about him while he prayed. His only objective was to get forgiveness from God for all his sins. He was forgetting the world around him and was focussing only on Almighty God.

    4. Do prayer with a humble heart:
    There was no good work to support the tax collector. Yet his prayer pierced the cloud and reached its goal – as we read in today’s first reading, “The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and it will not rest until it reaches its goal”. When we pray with a humble heart, it will pierce the cloud and reach our Almighty Father.
    Here the prayer is not a stream of words, but a loving humble heart.

    Are we the Pharisee or the Tax collector?

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