Sunday, October 27
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 18: 9 – 14
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.”
Have you ever felt that you had a front-row seat for an event you did not want to see in the first place? That you were watching a human train wreck about to happen? That’s the way you may feel when you hear the Gospel this weekend. Once the Pharisee in the story says in his so called prayer, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity,” you know this is a train-wreck-in-the-making. Is this Pharisee offering an open-ended prayer – or an airtight audit he can proudly take to the bank?
The Gospel shows us that true prayer is always directed to God. True prayer comes out of our awareness of our total reliance on God. If virtue goes skin deep and our relationship with everyone else is to look down on them, then pride is at work. Pride focuses our attention on ourselves and closes us to a proper relationship with God. Pride is about us exalting ourselves when we truly want to be exalted by God. To be exalted by God is to have humility to recognize that God is all in all.
We come to the Eucharist this weekend not to pat ourselves on the back or make sure that God’s records are up-to-date. No, we come because the Eucharist teaches us to pray more honestly and humbly.
-Deacon Frank Iannarino