(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, October 23, 2016)
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today's Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus gives us more direction on prayer. Last week, Jesus advised us to be more persistent in asking God for favors, like the widow who bothered that judge. Just to appease her, the judge finally gave in.
This week, Jesus urges us to be humble and truthful when we speak to God in prayer. That includes honestly taking the blame for our sins and failings. The Pharisee in today's parable wasn't really praying to God, but merely talking to himself about all his virtues. At the same time, he was guilty of rash judging that poor tax-collector at the rear of the temple who didn't even dare raise his eyes to heaven as he begged forgiveness for all his sins.
The Pharisee's prayer didn't impress the Lord very much. In fact, he didn't even return home justified. On the other hand, the tax collector's prayer earned him forgiveness from God. Why? Not because of his offenses, but because he honestly acknowledged them and humbly repented.
God loves us when we pray with humility. We could even say that humility is the key to God's heart, a sure guarantee to a favorable reply. The first reading from the Book of Sirach teaches the same thing. Humility is the beginning of wisdom.
A humble heart puts us on the level of the poor and needy to whom God always bends an ear. Of course, when we pray, we must not play games with God. We must really mean what we say when we acknowledge our sins and imperfections.
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor