October 23, 2022
Sir 35:12-18; Ps 34:2-3, 17-19, 23; 2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18; Lk 18:9-14
Today Collection: World Mission Sunday after Communion
The Scriptures today remind us of the importance of genuine humility in prayer and also that God does not show any partiality. If God does not show any partiality, why should anyone go before God with anything less than humility? God is God…and we are not. We will probably not impress God very much with our brilliance and beauty and holiness. We all have real needs and likely more than we can even conceive of. The first reading today from Sirach tells us that God hears the cry of the weak and the oppressed, the widow and the orphan, those who act justly. These people know their needs and can pray with sincerity. Going to God with genuine humility and receptivity takes some courage because in preparing us to receive His gifts, God will likely reveal to us the obstacles WE have to His love. Obstacles such as sin, fear, woundedness and ignorance. Quite often we have to be even desperate to pray with such sincerity.
In our biweekly Mass reflection from the Diocese this week we heard about the penitential rite that occurs at the beginning of each Mass. The Mass is the ‘source and summit’ of our religion and is the model of perfect prayer. In the Mass God calls us together, lifts us up and sends us out to do the mission given to us by Jesus. As the Gospel acclamation told us today (from 2 Corinthians 5:19) ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and entrusting to us the message of salvation.’
This message, this mission of the Church, is certainly beyond any individual; hence He calls us all together. The mission is even beyond any group of people without first removing the obstacles we have to God’s love. When we have collectively removed the obstacles, we then have the immediate tendency to glorify God which is also an act of humility. The Mass calls us into a state of Love with God and each other which transcends any other kind of love we can experience. It is a foretaste of Heaven. Taking this Love to the world is the mission given to us by Jesus.
It takes real humility to do God’s work because humans have the tendency to want to take too much credit for the good that we can do. Any tendency to do good comes from God.
The Gospel parable today speaks of a Pharisee who prays with great arrogance from a prominent place in the temple. He thanks God that he is not a lowly sinner like so many others, the tax collectors for example.
This arrogance and presumption don’t just come from people in the temple or the church. How many people do we know that say they don’t need the Church? They prayer ‘their own way’ on their own terms. This is sort of the opposite of humility. They actually know God’s will and can carry it out by themselves? Or even, how about leaving before the end of the Mass? What are we saying? We don’t need all the grace and blessings that God is offering us? We’ve got everything figured out and can maintain the clarity and strength needed to do God’s will? Really?
The penitential rite is not just important though at the beginning of each Mass. We should start each day by glorifying God with a prayer or psalm of praise. We should also end each day with a psalm of gratitude and a good Act of Contrition … just in case. We should have that prayer memorized and have it ready. There is a traditional version of the Act of Contrition written out in the bulletin today.
There is a wonderful structure of right praise and petition and penitence in the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours which I will be talking more about in the next couple weeks.
As we proceed more fully into today’s sacred liturgy let us ask God to help open our ‘lifted up’ hearts to a more genuine state of Communion…..
Oh my God I am heartly sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.