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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 24, 2019

 October 27, 2019

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18

Psalm 34

Second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Luke 18:9-14

Today’s Gospel has the second parable which Jesus began in last Sunday’s Gospel.  The opening sentence sets the scene and the tone.  The first part of the parable was addressed to the Apostles encouraging them to pray during the coming difficulties of His life as well as their own lives. 

The parable for this Sunday is directed towards the Pharisees who trusted in their own piety and holiness.  The two men of the parable are both praying in the temple area.  The first, guess who, a Pharisee, spoke a prayer to himself.  He addresses God, but literally is speaking to and about his own pious actions, expecting some sort of reward or special recognition.  He thanks God that he is not like other human beings, even though he is.  He has put himself above his need for God which is basically un-human.  He has completed the moral and ritual laws, but only to feel good about himself.  There is no crying, wailing or petition in his speaking to and about himself to God. 

Tax collectors are always the most disliked characters in the Gospels.  They are Jews who are employed by Rome to squeeze his fellow Jews to support the foreign empire who have conquered their country.  We hear him speak his “truth” by addressing God directly.  Beating his breast he prays, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Here truth meets  truth; the sinner met himself and God met him. 

Friends, the invitation to pray is an invitation to be honest.  The object of prayer is to leave prayer having received our truth and ourselves more peacefully.  The fruits of praying is our relationship with God that is lived out in the open.  The tax collector went home justified, meaning he has been honest with God.  Sounds very much like the sacrament of Reconciliation, doesn’t it?

Humbling ourselves before God doesn’t mean saying negative things; it means telling the truth.  Exalting ourselves means pretending that we have no need of God except for false honor.  It seems many are so frightened of praying humbly  with the gifts that God has already given us that it becomes easier to be negative and to call that humility.

The prayer that remains unheard is Gods prayer over and within us.  We fail to listen, because we have something less important on our minds such as our failures and our inferiority.  This listening to God’s prayer over us results in our asking less and receiving those gifts around us more gratefully.  After all, we are only human.     

Question of  the Day: Do you have the ability to pray with honesty and humility as displayed by the tax collector?

Prayer: Lord, teach me how to pray.  Grant that I may be  happy in being with you throughout my life.

Prosit

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

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