Saturday, October 27, 2007
30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - C
SIRACH 35:12-14, 16-18
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.
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. At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but
everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! 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. The Lord will rescue me from every evil
threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory
forever and ever. Amen.
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."
One of the often repeated themes of sacred scripture is the special
care God has for the poor, the underprivileged, and the outcasts of
society. We find that theme in today's readings. The Old Testament
prophet, Sirach, says "the Lord God hears the cry of the oppressed and
he is not deaf to the wail of the orphan; the prayer of the lowly
pierces the clouds."
Usually the responsorial psalm is a reflection and a repetition of the
theme of the first reading. And sure enough, in today's responsorial
psalm, after each verse comes the refrain: "the Lord hears the cry of
St. Luke is especially known for his sympathy for the plight of the
outcasts. His gospel is sometimes called the gospel of the great
pardons, for he tells the stories of the woman taken in adultery, the
forgiveness of the paralytic; and the good thief on the cross. Today
he tells the memorable story of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
If ever there was an outcast of society in the time of Jesus, it was
the local tax collector. He had plenty of power and plenty of money,
most of it stolen from the taxes he collected. But he had no friends.
As Mother Theresa pointed out, the poorest of the poor are those who
are unloved. And the tax collector was the greatest of the
But in this parable, the tax collector has repented of all the crimes
that he committed. He kneels in the very back of the temple, unworthy
to approach the altar and confesses his sinfulness to the lord. But
the Pharisee, standing proudly in the front of the temple, trumpets
his achievements. Nobody except him could do anything right. He says:
"I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, grasping, crooked,
like this miserable tax collector. The man who went home from the
temple justified, was the tax collector, the one who recognized his
sinfulness and asked for God's mercy.
Jesus is critical of the Pharisee not because of his virtues but
because he "exalts himself" while Jesus praises the tax collector
because he has humbled himself before God, admitting he is a sinner
and asks for mercy.
As we study the second reading we may think that Paul, like the
Pharisee, is also very conscious of how own accomplishments. He says
he has competed; he has finished the race and has the audacity to say:
"Now the crown of righteousness awaits me." In essence, Paul sounds
more like the Pharisee than the tax collector. However, there is a
Paul is "teaching", while the Pharisee is boasting. Paul has
confidence that he has lived his life as Jesus asks that he live it.
If one of us were teaching someone how to cook or play golf, we
probably would say, "Watch me. I will show you how it is done." Paul
seems to be saying that living, competing, finishing the race and
keeping the faith are practices necessary in our journey through life.
But then he adds that he and all who long for the appearance of Jesus
will be rewarded for their conduct.
Paul, himself, has "walked the walk." On the other hand, the Pharisee
seemed to congratulate himself on what he alone accomplished while
Paul indicates his motivation was his longing for the appearance of
God. There is a big difference in the two attitudes. However, we can
also become proud of our accomplishments.
We may judge our worthiness by the material aspects of our lives.
There is nothing wrong with earning a lot of money, with gaining fame
and in becoming a powerful force in one's community. However, Jesus
calls us to make a decision. Are our actions motivated by ambition, by
a desire to be recognized for our efforts or do we take our
actions so that we may, like Paul, derive our motivation, as Paul did,
from God's promise that he will bring us safely to his heavenly
Once again Jesus asks us to make this decision: is our life dedicated
to God or to our own personal accomplishments. We truly must make this
distinction. When we read the parables, we usually identify
with one of the characters depicted in the story.
If we were asked with whom in this story we most easily identify, we
would probably say the tax collector. That means that we like what he
did. But it also means that we think that we are more like him than we
are like the Pharisee. And that is something we need to question.
If most of us were like the tax collector, there would be no point in
Jesus telling this story. He is suggesting, ever so subtly, that
perhaps we are very much like the Pharisee. Jesus asks us to reflect
on the pharisaic acts of our own lives, the times we judged that we
were better than others, the times we did not give to the poor or the
missions or local needy persons because we felt that we had already
done our fair share.
When we do good works, we expect that they be credited to us.
Sometimes, in an outburst of piety, we pray for the conversion of
sinners, which, of course, excludes ourselves. Why do we act this way?
Because we want to be always considered better than others even if we
achieve this by putting others down. Unfortunately, in doing
so, we reflect the attitude of the Pharisee. Jesus is teaching us to
follow the example of the tax collector in life as well as in our
prayer. He wants us to acknowledge that everything we are and have,
has come from God. This is what the tax collector was able to capture
in his prayer and the Pharisee did not. Thus, even if the tax
collector only asked for mercy, he ended up justified before God.
Though we are often like the Pharisee in our speech, good works and
even in our prayer, it is not too late to change. With the tax
collector as our model, we can begin by making his prayer our very
own: "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner." Then we will not only
receive God's mercy. We will also end up justified before him.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
... for the strength, healing and speedy recovery of:
- Eligia G. Fernando
- Lydia and Marina
- Richard P. Mendoza
- Conchita Tan
- Tessie Paras
- Boy Revatoris
... for the personal intentions of Fred and Nel de Leon
... for San Juan de Dios Hospital
... Birthday: Jerry Solis
... for the eternal repose of the souls of
- Jaime Lomuntad
- Rey Keng
Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them.
May they and all the dearly departed rest in peace.
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Chit Marin
- Birthday: Jeffrey Wayne D.
- Wedding Anniversary: Naomi & Samuel Co Chan
- In Memoriam (+): Numeriano G. Valencia
... for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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