Sunday, October 27, 2013

Today's Mass Readings, Sunday, October 27, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
12 The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. 13 Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. 14 The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint. 16 The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens. 17The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, 18 nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right, and the Lord will not delay.
P S A L M - Psalm 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23
R: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
1 [2] I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 2 [3] Let my soul glory in the Lord; the lowly will hear me and be glad. (R) 16 [17] The Lord confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. 17 [18] When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them.(R) 18 [19] The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. 22 [23] The Lord redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him. (R)
2ND READING - 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
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. 16 At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! 17 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. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and entrusting to us the message of salvation.
Luke 18:9-14
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11 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. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ 13 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.’ 14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”



The Gospel parable of this Sunday portrays two people who went to the temple to pray. God was pleased with the prayer of the tax collector. The prayer of the Pharisee was rejected as it did not reach God because it was not directed to God in the first place. Although the Pharisee began with, “O God, I thank you…”, the rest of his prayer was a litany of his perceived virtues. His prayer reached its destination: himself. The problem is, what he does is not consistent with who he is. All his actions were a façade. The tax collector, on the other hand, could not boast of even a single virtue. With head bowed, he could only mutter, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And yet, the Gospel concluded by saying that he went home justified. God saw his prayer as sincere.

       We catch God’s attention when we do things in humility. The First Reading today affirms, “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….” Humility, though, is not self-deprecation or self-hate. We are not being humble when we ignore our gifts and talents. That is false humility at best. At worst, it is wallowing in low self-esteem.

       There is a thin line separating pride and humility. They actually share something in common. Both begin with an acknowledgment of one’s gifts and talents, but this becomes pride when it is done in a spirit of isolation. The Pharisee in the Gospel knew his gifts and virtues but he saw them in a spirit of isolation, “I thank you because I am not like the rest of humanity.” This engenders pride and arrogance. But when done in a spirit of communion, self-knowledge breeds humility and gratitude. It means placing one’s giftedness at the service of the common good. That way, one can never be proud as he now sees himself as a servant. And service is kindred to humility.

       Let Sirach’s admonition be our guide today. May our prayers and actions pierce the cloud and not rest till they reach their destination — the bosom of God. Fr. Joel O. Jason
REFLECTION QUESTION: Make an accounting of your gifts. Have they benefited people other than yourself?
I thank You, Lord, for I am wonderfully made. Make my life a blessing to others. Amen.

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza, pray for us.

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