2007-10-24 04:30:51 UTC
It is our common experience in life that we are put off by people who constantly boast and brag about themselves and their achievements. We ourselves sometimes fall into the same trap when we place ourselves on a pedestal and look down on others and judge ourselves superior to them. As followers of Christ we are called to be humble, truthful and non-judgmental towards others. Have a weekend humbly acknowledging our unworthiness and God?s goodness! Fr. Jude
Sunday Reflections: Thirtieth Sunday ?Being humble of Heart 28-Oct-07
Readings: Sirach 35:12-14, 16-19; 2Timothy 4:6-9, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14;
The Book of Sirach written a little less than two hundred years before Christ?s time, reminds its readers that God is no respecter of personages, he listens to the humble and the poor. In a corrupt and unjust society as the one that existed in ancient times and still exists today, the situation of the poor was seen as totally helpless. Without financial backing and social influence the poor would never get justice when they were wronged. Keeping this situation in mind, the author says God will come to the rescue of the poor, he will punish the guilty and vindicate the poor, humbling their oppressors. In the words of the response psalm: ?When the poor man called the Lord heard him.?
No respecter of the privileged
Before Mahatma Gandhi led India in its struggle for independence he practiced law in South Africa. Becoming aware of the injustices there he managed to persuade the Indian community to offer passive resistance to the government policy of discrimination. One incident which impressed itself on his mind was when he was obliged to step into the gutter so that a group of white passers-by would not be contaminated. Reflecting on the experience afterwards he wrote: ?It has always been a mystery to me how men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow human beings.? Gandhi made the remark not in anger but in surprise. ?In the language of the first reading, Gandhi believed in a God who was no respecter of the privileged to the detriment of the poor.
Denis McBride in ?Seasons of the Word?
In the second reading from St. Paul?s letter to Timothy, Paul humbly confesses that like a good athlete of Christ, he has pushed himself and run the race, faithful to the end. He is sure of his reward from God, who alone has given him strength and never abandoned him. He sees his approaching death as the climax of the ?prayer of thanksgiving?, which he has offered up to the Lord all his life long.
Living on Purpose
They said he had died! One morning in 1888 Alfred Nobel the inventor of dynamite, who had amassed a fortune manufacturing and selling weapons of destruction, awoke to read his own obituary in the newspaper. Actually it was his brother who had died, but a reporter mistakenly wrote Alfred?s obituary. For the first time Alfred saw himself as the world saw him: ?the dynamite king? and nothing more. Nothing was mentioned about his efforts at breaking down barriers between people and ideas. He was simply a merchant of death, and he would be remembered for that alone. Alfred was horrified. He determined that the world would know the true purpose of his life. So he wrote his last will and testament and left his fortune to establish the most valued of all prizes: the Nobel Peace Prize. Now the world has forgotten his dynamite legacy.
Frank Michalic in ?1000 Stories You can use?
In today?s Gospel Jesus told the vivid story of two men who went to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee the other a publican. The prayer of one was heard but the other was rejected. One presumed he was praying while he was actually only talking to himself and boasting about his achievements. In his prayer, while comparing himself to the publican, he exalted himself and judged and despised the other. In so doing he felt he was qualified to judge others because of his ?religious? activities but in judging others he had closed his heart and closed himself from God. His was no prayer and what he said and did was unacceptable to God. The Pharisee represents those who take pride in themselves and in their religious practices and exalt themselves at the expense of others. The Pharisee tried to justify himself whereas only God can justify us. The publican, on the other hand, was acutely aware of his unworthiness and sinfulness and dared not come close to
God. From a distance, not even daring to raise his eyes to heaven, he confesses his sinfulness and says, ?God be merciful to me a sinner.? The publican, who represented people who are despised by religious people, did not defend his actions, but humbly confessed his sins, and asked for mercy. This man?s prayer was heard and he went home justified before God. Jesus concluded his story stating that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Only when we see and acknowledge our own need, our weakness and our sinfulness is God ready to help us.
Prayer for faith
Dorothy Day died in November 1980 at the age of 84. Reporting on her death, the New York Times called her the most influential person in the history of American Catholicism. Since her death there has been a movement to canonize her for her personal life and her work among the New York?s City poor and destitute. In her book From Union Square to Rome she describes her conversion to Christ. One of her first attractions came in her childhood. One day she discovered the mother of one of her girlfriends kneeling in prayer. The sight of this kneeling woman moved her deeply. She never forgot it. In the same book she tells how, in the days before her conversion, she often spent the entire night in a tavern. Then she would go to the early morning mass at St. Joseph?s Church on Sixth Avenue. What attracted her to St. Joseph?s were the people kneeling in prayer. She writes: ?I longed for their faith
. So I used to go in and kneel in a back pew.?
Eventually Dorothy Day received the gift of faith and entered the Church.
Mark Link in ?Sunday Homilies?
?Jesus in today?s gospel has two extremes of the religious society of his day, two attitudes before God. This concerns me this Sunday. In which do I see myself, the Pharisee or the publican? First the Pharisee, with his magnificent ?prayer of thanks?: ?I thank you God
..? He asks nothing for himself, and we should judge him no hypocrite: what he says, he does, and perfectly. The trouble is he knows it too well; he listens to himself praying, he is preoccupied with himself. Above all he judges others. As far as he is concerned about God, he sees him chiefly as the one who will recognize his merits. Set against this religiously observant man we have the publican. He makes no great prayer of thanksgiving; he confesses, not because he needs to sweep his conscience clear (the Pharisee has done that for him), nor to go back over his faults, but to express all the sorrow he feels for them. Finding nothing that could give him any assurance
before his judge, he entrusts himself to the divine mercy: hoping to receive his very existence as a grace, a gift. When this humble man returned to his home, he and not the other was at rights with God. As Christians we know that a just man who has been justified, is saved by God, without regard for merit. Do we believe that firmly enough when we pray? The best revealer of God and of ourselves is still our prayer. -Glenstal Bible Missal
Prayer of the Anonymous Soldier of the Confederacy
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve ?I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for help that I might do greater things ?I was given infirmity, that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy ? I was given poverty, that I might be wise. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life ? I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for ? but everything that I hoped for. Despite myself my prayers were answered. I am among all men, most richly blessed!
May we approach God on bended knees that he might exalt us in his presence!
Fr. Jude Botelho
PS. The stories, incidents and anecdotes used in the reflections have been collected over the years from books as well as from sources over the net and from e-mails received. Every effort is made to acknowledge authors whenever possible. If you send in stories or illustrations I would be grateful if you could quote the source as well so that they can be acknowledged if used in these reflections. These reflections are also available on my web site www.netforlife.net Thank you.
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