THE ONE WHO HUMBLES HIMSELF WILL BE EXALTED
Last Sunday's readings focused on the need for persistence in prayer. This week, the focus is on coming to prayer with a humble and contrite heart. In our first reading (Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18)
, we hear that God is an equal opportunity giver of mercy but has particular concern for the lowly and sufferers of injustice.
The LORD is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint. The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right, and the Lord will not delay.
In our Gospel reading (Luke 18:9-14)
, Jesus tells a parable contrasting a boastful pharisee with a humble and contrite tax collector who's shame and remorse is painfully evident. It is the Pharisee's sense of superiority that offends Jesus.
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. "Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.' But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
In our Epistle reading (2 Timothy 4:6-8. 16-18),
St. Paul continues his letter from prison as he contemplates his impending martyrdom. At its heart, it is a prayer of praise and glory to God for allowing him the gift of his ministry and complete service to God.
Beloved: I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
If we are to emulate one character in today's readings, it is the tax collector's humility and true repentance for his sins, not judging others or feeling in any way better (or worse) than others. Like the poor widow and orphan, simply take our sorrow and our troubles and lay them at the foot of the cross. And then go and do justice to others.Click Here
to read, reflect and pray on the full readings for Sunday, October 23, 2016