Saturday, October 22, 2016

10-23-2016 -- 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Oct. 23, 2016 - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C 
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



As I reflect upon this gospel, I am very much aware that I am a sinner.

I rush to judgment, sometimes thinking the worst about a person instead of giving the benefit of the doubt.

I get frustrated and sometimes angry with people who are small-minded. I fail to consult as widely as I could when making pastoral decisions.

I can be short or even ill-tempered with people who make inappropriate requests of the church.

And through my own body language, I sometimes give the impression that I am aloof or unapproachable or even uncaring, when, in fact, the opposite is true.

In the Psalm we sing that the Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Does the Lord hear my cry for mercy?
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord.

Does the Lord hear your cry for mercy?
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord.

In the Book of Sirach from the Old Testament reading, we are told that the one who serves God willingly is heard.

We serve God in our worship. Do we come here willingly or out of a sense of obligation, begrudgingly?

We serve God willingly when we lift our voices in song. Do we pick up the songbooks in church when a hymn is announced and at least try our best to sing along?

We serve God willingly when we answer the call to help our brothers and sisters in need. Do we give to some charity or do we do some good volunteer work in our community?

The one who serves God willingly is heard.

In the gospel, the Pharisee asks for nothing and he receives nothing. The tax collector, on the other hand, bangs his chest and asks that his sins be forgiven and his prayer is answered.

We must be careful not to be like the Pharisee. His prayer is not necessarily a bad prayer. But it is mostly about him.

It is self-absorbed. It is boastful. In his prayer, he tells God about all the good things he is doing. He is convinced that he has earned his place of honor. He thinks he is managing his own salvation.

The Pharisee believes in a God who is quick to judge and condemn anyone who falls outside the norms of what he considers to be acceptable behavior.

As a result, he is also quick to condemn those who are not like him. This makes him proud and arrogant; and his temple worship becomes self-centered.

The tax collector, on the other hand, confesses his sinfulness and begs for mercy. He cries out to God in despair.

He is overwhelmed at what he perceives to be the great gulf separating him from God. The Lord accepts his sacrifice of a broken contrite heart and draws near to the tax collector.

We are called to acknowledge our own sinfulness and entrust ourselves to the generous mercy of God.

Our God is bigger than any particular sins we have committed.
God’s mercy is much stronger. God’s love bring forgiveness.

Jesus teaches us to never look down upon our fellow sinners.
If we do, we are like the Pharisee. “Thank you God that I am not like so and so.”

Rather, we are called to help our neighbors in their search for God.

Our church community should be an open, welcoming place for all God’s children, sinners every one.

It is in this place that the humble broken contrite heart is exalted and made new.

It is in this place that the Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Blessed be the Lord.

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