Homily: Thirtieth Sunday Year C The prayer of the humble is heard.

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Homily: Thirtieth Sunday Year C

Reading 1: There are four groups of people listed in the reading whose prayer is heard by God: the weak, the oppressed, the orphan and the widow. What do they have in common? They serve God willingly; their prayer is humble; they are totally dependent upon God. Their prayer is not a matter of words, but an attitude of the heart. They acknowledge who God is and who they are in relationship.

 

God is said to be the God of justice, who judges justly and affirms the right. Normally, we think of justice due to us. But in reference to prayer, it is the justice due to God. Because he is God and we belong to him. We owe him praise, adoration, thanksgiving, honor and glory. This is due him. When these come from a sincere heart that recognizes the truth and lives in the truth, then a person is open to receive God’s blessings.

 

To serve God willingly is to recognize that he is the Master/Lord of our lives. We owe all to him from creation and sustaining us in existence to redemption, to sanctification and life eternal with him. We have no right to any of these. They are not ours by justice but by mercy. God does not need our prayers or service, but we need God just to be. We are not self-sufficient. Our sufficiency is in God.

 

Does our prayer reflect our dependency upon God? Does it reflect our sincere awareness of the majesty and awesomeness of God? Does it reflect our heart?

 

Gospel:  The prayer of the lowly and the prayer of the self-righteous. Both prayed to the same God. Both prayed out of their relationship with God.  Why was the prayer of one heard and responded to but the other did the expected response?

The self-righteous one focuses on the self and not the Other, on distortion rather than the truth. To show that his prayer was really words directed, not to God, but to himself and those around him.  His relationship with God was based on what he did, not on what God did in his life. He shows that he is not dependent upon God. Instead God should be impressed with his piety and accomplishments. What was he looking for from God? That God would bless him for being such a self-generated good person. But what was one of the flaws of his prayer, besides being self-conceited was that he looked down with contempt on the tax collector.

 

 In contrast, the tax collector recognizes the truth. He has sinned by his actions and life-style. He recognizes his own unworthiness to come into God’s presence. All he could do is admit he was a sinner and throw himself upon the mercy of God, who owed him nothing. He spoke the truth and acknowledged the truth. The psalmist said: the prayer of a contrite and humble heart will be heard by God.

 

Of the two, which on reflects our prayer before God? Do we pray because we believe God owes us something? Or do we pray for his mercy because we know that we are sinners who deserve chastisement in hope of his mercy.

 

Reading 2: The first reading said: “He who serves God willingly is heard.” What does St. Paul say about this? When he was on trial for preaching the word of God, no one supported him, but abandoned him. “The Lord stood by my side and give me strength.” He knew that he was called by God to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to the Gentiles. He knew first-hand the difficulties and sufferings he was enduring, as he sought to fulfill God’s call. He knew that his goal was to be with God forever in heaven.

 

He knew that his end of life was approaching quickly. He said at the beginning of the reading: “I am being poured out as a libation.” His sufferings and struggles were not in vain. The one constant for him was that God was with him. His focus was to complete the work of God. “God will continue to rescue me and bring me safe into his heavenly kingdom.”

 

What is God’s call for us? Are we serving God willingly? Are we convinced that no matter what, God will not abandon us?

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