From the Pastor's Desk
Reading 1: Wisdom 11: 22 – 12:2
Responsorial: Ps 145: 1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
Reading 2: 2Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2
Gospel: Luke 19: 1-10
The main theme of today’s Gospel is that true humility must be the hallmark of our prayers. However, the central focus of today’s parable is not on prayer itself, but rather on pride, humility and the role of grace in our salvation.
The first reading, from Sirach, is a perfect companion piece to the Gospel parable. In one striking image from Sirach, the writer talks about "the prayer of the lowly, piercing the clouds to reach the unseen throne of God.” Such prayers are heard because they come from the hearts of people who know how much they need God. Although God has no favorites and answers the prayers of all, the oppressed, the orphans, the widows, and those who can least help themselves are His special concern. The best prayer is humble and selfless service.
In the second reading, Paul, a former Pharisee, humbly acknowledges his work as accomplished by the grace of God, and he thanks God for enabling him to fight a good battle -- to run a good race while keeping his Faith intact and proclaiming it.
In today’s Gospel parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, Jesus reminds us that God hears the prayers those who approach Him in humility with a repentant heart. God did not hear the prayer of the Pharisee because he exalted himself. His prayer was a prayer of thanksgiving that he was not as evil as other people. He announced to God his freedom from sin and detailed his fidelity in observing the prescribed fast and in giving tithes. The tax collector’s prayer, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” was heard because he humbled himself, acknowledging his sins and requesting God’s mercy.
Life messages: 1) Let us evict the Pharisee and revive the publican in each of us. We become the proud Pharisee when we brag about our achievements giving no credit to God, when we seek praise and recognition from others for our accomplishments, and when we degrade others with insensitive comments, hurting their feelings. In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to imitate the humble publican (tax collector), by acknowledging our total dependence on God and His grace for all our achievements and blessings; by confessing to God daily our sinfulness and asking for His pardon and forgiveness; by praying for God’s continued daily support through His grace and for His strengthening through the daily anointing and of His Holy Spirit living within us; and by becoming more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, serving them as best as we can.
2) Let us include all the necessary ingredients in our prayers. Our personal prayers must include our request for pardon and forgiveness for our sins, thanksgiving for the numerous blessings we receive daily from God, praise and worship, surrendering of our life and all our activities completely and unconditionally to God, acknowledging our weakness and total dependence on Him, and finally, presenting our needs and petitions, accompanied by the fervent request for God’s strengthening in our weakness and temptations by the daily anointing of His Holy Spirit. Let us pray every day: “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”