October 27, 2019: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Luke 18:9-14
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and 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, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector 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.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The readings today, the 4th Sunday in October, continue to focus on the prayer of faith, with a particular emphasis on justice for the poor. In the reading from Sirach we are told very clearly that God hears the cry of the poor and oppressed — that their cries reach the heavens and God will treat them with justice. The gospel writer then contrasts the prayer of the self-righteous Pharisee and prayer of the humble tax collector.
Our world today presents us with many examples of the poor and the oppressed in our midst. The Gospel writer is clearly reminding us that God hears the cries of the immigrant, the refugee, the homeless and those affected by rampant crime in our neighborhoods.
Do we hear their cries? Are we pleading along with them for justice? Are we recognizing how the Spirit may be urging us to become God’s instruments, God’s ears and hands and feet in working for justice and for God’s loved ones? As we listen to the Spirit and recognize how we may be complicit in the injustices in our world, perhaps our prayers will also become ones that cry for God’s mercy.
This week try to read one newspaper article or watch a news story on TV that speaks of an injustice in our world. Take a little time to reflect on this and ask yourself how the Holy Spirit might be speaking to you in this situation. Pray then for the courage follow the Spirit’s lead in prayer for the people involved and in action if possible.