For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste in into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/102719.cfm
In our Gospel this weekend Jesus addressed a parable to "those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” The parable begins: “two men who went up to the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.” We are told that the Pharisee “Spoke this prayer to himself. ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity --- greedy, dishonest, adulterous --- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on my whole income.’” The tax collector, though, “stood off at a distance, and would not even raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’”
The difference between these two people in terms of their prayer is striking. The Pharisee was not so much praying as he was giving a report on his “supposed” goodness. The tax collector, though, had a clear since of his own sinfulness and his need for God’s mercy. His prayer was honest and heartfelt.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Sirach. It shares the theme of our Gospel in regard to prayer. It is clear that “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds, it does not rest till it reaches its goal.”
In our second reading this Sunday, we continue to read from the second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy. In it Paul writes very personally about feeling abandoned by those who whose support he had anticipated. He also is clear, though, about his trust in God: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- I don’t think many of us pray as the Pharisee did in our Gospel for this weekend. (Few of us are that grandiose.) I also don’t think that many of us pray as the tax collector did. (Few of us are that honest.) How do you approach God in prayer?
- How do you know when God has heard your prayer?
- Even though he felt abandoned, Paul was sure of God’s presence and grace. Have you ever experienced God’s grace at a time when you have felt abandoned or betrayed.?