Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else,
‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.”
The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”.
This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
The Gospel of the Lord
Donal Neary SJ
Church Reflections, Year C
The Pharisee’s boast
This is one of these stories of people who didn’t like each other, and brought the worst out of each other. The Pharisee was strict on religion, and the tax man was a greedy sinner. Each made the other feel awful about themselves, especially before God.
The Pharisee started boasting about his religious fervent observance. The tax man just swallowed his prejudice and admitted to God that he was a sinner. The Pharisee would look good in any religious line-up, and the tax man would be in the comer of the line-up, almost cowering in the back of the prayer- place, hoping nobody would see him.
But he knew who he was before God; he admitted his weakness. The Pharisee pretended religious fervour and looked down on the tax man, one of God’s favourites.
Jesus comments on the story that everyone would recognise, and we recognise ourselves in both people: the proud and arrogant person at times, and at other times, the one who feels a total failure.
He just says – in admitting who you are, you are high in the sight of God and high at God’s table.
Just to be oneself before God can be difficult. Many gospel stories are about this reality. We need to give those few silent moments each day to an awareness of being loved by God. In that we are humbled, that one as good as God could love us so totally, and so we are exalted.
We are gifted by God’s grace and if we can enjoy our identity as a child of God we will find happiness in life.
Lord teach me to know you more,
to love you more and
serve you faithfully in my life.
As today is MISSION SUNDAY in Ireland,
Fr Neary S.J also offers these comments
A passionate spirit
Irish people have long memories of helping the missions – collecting stamps, mission groups in schools, maybe aunts and uncles ‘out foreign’. It is an essential part of the Church, because Christ is missionary, sent not just to one, but to all, to make a better world, founded on the gospel of Christ. Even if people are not baptised, the Church wants to point out the way to a truly human life – in the way, truth and life who is Christ, and committed to the world of justice
With so much hunger, ill health, and lack of education, the missionary spirit is passionate about wanting to improve things with the message of the gospel.
Today we pray for our missionaries. They are helped by our prayers in what is often a lonely life for them. Help the missionary societies if we can; think of giving some time in volunteering in the poorer world; decide to vote for people who are concerned for the developing world and who will maintain our aid to the world in need; and we can encourage the young to think globally.
We pray for courage for our people overseas and also for ourselves that we can live as Jesus in different ways. All are missionaries as Pope Francis says – ‘Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify to God’s love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy, which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly.’
May our lives be lived in love and service
of you, Lord God,
and of each other.
Gospel and Gosple Reflection are taken from Mass Readings and Sunday Homily - Catholicireland.net.