30th Sunday Reflection (Year C)
THE PHARISEE & THE TAX COLLECTOR. HUMILITY AND PRAYER
When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them.
The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
These are the words taken from the Responsorial Psalm we pray in today’s Sunday Mass which reminds us of the importance of humility, especially in prayer, for God listens only the prayer of the humble, the “poor” in spirit as we see in the 1st reading and in the Gospel of today’s Mass.
- In the 1st Reading (Sir 35, 15-17.20) we see how “The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint. The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens. 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, judges justly and affirms the right, and the Lord will not delay.”
- God has a weakness for the prayers of the weak and oppressed and those who consider themselves lowly, with humility. Their prayer “pierces the clouds” and will “not rest till it reaches its goal”.
- Our Lord consoles those who are self-effacing and gives them His grace (2 Cor 7:6), listens to the prayers and cries of the poor at heart (Ps 11,6) and is pleased with the person who prays with humility and who repents for his sins.
- The above idea is graphically exemplified in today’s Gospel of the Pharisee and the Publican.
- The parable presents two contrasting types of attitude and prayer:
- the Pharisee, who brags of his meticulous and external fulfilment of the Law, taking “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’”; and the tax collector, or publican looked on as a public sinner (cf. Lk 19:7), who “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.’”
- The Pharisee’s prayer was not pleasing to God. Although he begins thanking God, it is not an authentic gratitude because his prayer is more of a boastful enumeration of his merits and good works. Worse still, he compares himself to others, despising them: a proclamation of his self-righteousness which has its root in pride which made him incapable of acknowledging his sins and thus loses the possibility of being pardoned by God. On the other hand, the publican approached God aware of his unworthiness and repentant for his sins. His humble attitude and prayer won God’s heart, praise and forgiveness as well.
Dear brethren in Christ, let us ask God for the indispensable virtue of humility if we want to live for God and if we want God to live in us. Let us ask for this virtue so that we and our prayers would be pleasing to God. Let us not forget that “Prayer is the humility of the man who acknowledges his profound wretchedness and the greatness of God. He addresses and adores God as one who expects everything from Him and nothing from himself (St. Josemaria, Furrow, n. 259).”
“If you ask me what is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ, i shall reply: first humility, second humility and third humility” (St. Augustine, Letter 118). Why? Because HUMILITY IS THE FOUNDATION, THE BASIS OF ALL VIRTUES, including that of LOVE. HUMILITY IS THE FOUNDATION OF LOVE, THE HABITAT OF CHARITY.
“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.”
A blessed Sunday and week ahead to you and your loved ones! God bless!
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei, CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS
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SEE AS WELL:
POPE FRANCIS ON THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBICAN in https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/06/02/pope-francis-general-audience-the-pharisee-and-the-publican-pray-not-with-arrogance-but-with-humility/
AUDIO CREDIT AND SOURCE: “Pater Noster” (John Pamintuan) sung by the Philippine Madrigal Singers at the European Grand Prix, Arezzo, Italy (which they won) on August 26, 2007, video recorded and uploaded by sheikyurbutti in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkO887qpKvk. Track used in this video with permission from Mark Anthony Carpio, the choirmaster. Thanks, Mark!
VIDEO PHOTO SOURCES: