28 October 2007, XXX Sunday of the Year

Sir. 35:15-17, 20-22; 2Tim.4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14
Humble Prayer

“All who humble themselves will be exalted.” These words echo the Words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew where it is said, “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Mt. 18:4] Why is the humble person the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? It is because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [Jas. 4:6; Prov. 3:34] Therefore, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” [Jas. 4:10]

Today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke  speaks of humility. We all listened to the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. In this story we have two persons who are gathered to pray, either at 9:00 A.M. or at 3:00 P.M., these being the hours of prayer. The Pharisee was a good man. He came from the Parisim, meaning, a group separate, apart. They tried to live up to their sacred law completely.  They were very honest, respected other’s properties, and did everything right and one could count on them.  Yet people gave them some unflattering nick names, such as “Blood headed Pharisees” for they avoided looking at women and so bumped into walls; “Book keeper Pharisees,” for keeping best of record; “wait a minute Pharisees” for they kept friends waiting and went to do a good deed.  But true Pharisee was called “Pharisee of Love.” In today’s story, the righteousness of the Pharisee considerably exceeds the standard prescribed by the Mosaic Law.  When the law prescribed fast once a year, he fasted twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays, and abstained from all food and drink during day time.  The Law commanded of tithes on farm produce profits, but he tithed on everything he produced or traded.

Tax collectors on the other hand were the social outcasts.  They were considered Robbers for Rome. People did not like to mingle with them and they were the non-society people. In the parable we see his body language, he stayed at a distance, bowed his head, beat his breast, showed the attitude of prayer.  His prayer was simple, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Who in the eye of God was justified? It was the tax collector! “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Jesus showed this humility in his life and gave us an example to remain humble before God. He could so easily say, I am meek and humble of heart.

Jesus today tells us how we ought to pray and these two men are an example to us. Prayer is generally understood raising our hearts and minds to God.  It is an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving, and also placing before him our requests and petitions. The best example of prayer we have in Jesus the prayer at Gethsemane.  Jesus prayed and placed his request before the Father. It is also a lesson for us to understand how God’s answer is for us and how to accept his answer. It is like a child who had a broken doll and she prays to Jesus and says, Jesus you are the healer and you can heal my doll. Her brother teases her says do you think he will do it for you?  After half hour the girl comes home, still the broken doll in her hand and the brother laughs and says so he did not do it.  She retorts and says, Jesus answered my prayer and he said he will not do it. That is how we understand our prayer.

First, that true prayer should come from the heart. Jesus prayed from within, not with just words or gestures. His prayer was not based only on feelings or passing emotions. Our prayer must come from within, beyond level of feelings, from ourselves. Secondly, prayer is fed by faith. Jesus prayed with an unwavering faith in his heavenly Father, a faith that lasted till his death. He taught us to pray also with childlike faith in God, believing that our prayers are heard by one who loves us. Thirdly, prayer should be steady and persevering as his prayer was even when no answer comes or when no relief is in sight. “Watch and pray,” he says, “Seek and knock,” till the door that reveals God’s holy will be opened. His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. He did, and he teaches us too. Yet Jesus is more than a mere teacher. As Christians we believe that Jesus prays for us; he is our intercessor before God. As Savior he gathers our prayers, our needs, and the cries of our hearts to make them his own and offers them to God who hears our prayers in the prayer of his Son. That is why we complete our prayers so often with the beautiful phrase: “Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.” Jesus is our teacher and he is our Savior, who takes our prayers and makes them his own.

Finally, today’s readings tell us how we should pray and live. The first reading says that our prayer must be connected with the rest of our lives. From Paul we learn that good life like a good prayer comes by emptying ourselves and do everything for God. The parable tells us that our prayer should be self emptying and humble before God. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us true humility so we may always be pleasing to the eyes of God, and that our prayer filled with the trust and confidence in him.

 -Eugene

2 Responses to “28 October 2007, XXX Sunday of the Year”

  1. Tom Houle, Deacon Says:

    Father
    thank you for your wonderful homily. i have searched and researched this week’s Gospel and yours for all the web sites had the most and best historical view of the the outlook of the people on the two people.
    Isn’t the internet an amzing thing in that your homily this week in India has inspired me in the correct direction for my reflection this week.
    As my Father used to say, you can always depend on the Jesuits
    God bless
    Tom Houle

  2. Fr.Antony Williams Says:

    Your homily is good to the truth.It is thought provoking.Nice to preach to the people.I appreciate you.
    William

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: