October 23 -Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time : The Prayer of the Humble Man

October 21st, 2016


First Reading  Sirach 35:12-14,16-18
God hears the prayer of the poor.

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 34:2-3,17-18,19, 23
The Lord hears and answers the cry of the poor.

Second Reading  2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
Paul perseveres in faith, confident that God will rescue him.

Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14


Jesus draws a bluntpicture in today’s Gospel. The Pharisee’s prayer is almost a parody of thethanksgiving psalms (see for example Psalms 30,118). Instead of praising Godfor His mighty works, the Pharisee congratulates himself for his own deeds,which he presents to God in some detail. The tax collector stands at adistance, too ashamed even to raise his eyes to God (see Ezra 9:6). He prayswith a humble and contrite heart (see Psalm 51:19). He knows that before God noone is righteous, no one has cause to boast (see Roman 3:10; 4:2). We seein the Liturgy today one of Scripture’s abiding themes - that God “knows nofavorites,” as today’s First Reading tells us (see 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts10:34-35; Romans 2:11). God cannot be bribed (see Deuteronomy 10:17). Wecannot curry favor with Him or impress Him - even with our good deeds or ourfaithful observance of religious duties such as tithing and fasting. If we tryto exalt ourselves before the Lord, as the Pharisee does, we will be broughtlow (see Luke 1:52). This should be a warning to us - not to take pride in ourpiety, not to slip into the self-righteousness of thinking that we’re betterthan others, that we’re “not like the rest of sinful humanity.” If weclothe ourselves with humility (see 1 Peter 5:5-6) - recognize that all of usare sinners in need of His mercy - we will be exalted (see Proverbs29:33). The prayer of the lowly, the humble, pierces the clouds. Paultestifies to this in today’s Epistle, as He thanks the Lord for giving himstrength during his imprisonment. Paul tells us what the Psalmist singstoday - that the Lord redeems the lives of His humble servants. We toomust serve Him willingly. And He will hear us in our distress, deliver us fromevil, and bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom.

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