Thirtieth Sunday of the Year 2019
In these last Sundays we have had a feast of teaching from Our Lord on the subject of Prayer – last week it was about the need to persist in prayer, the week before about the need for real thanksgiving in prayer and not taking God, or indeed anyone, for granted and, today, it is much about how God listen`s to prayer – and answers it!
As we work through today`s Mass reading we begin with that wonderful passage from the Book of Ecclesiasticus chapter 35 and just 7 verses of that chapter describing the Lord as a judge who is no respecter of personages to the detriment of a poor man. He is the just judge who listens to the poor, the injured party, the orphan, the poor widow. We are told, clearly, that the man who with his whole heart serves God will be accepted and his petitions will carry to the clouds. We are again reminded about persistence when we read: “The humble man`s prayer pierces the clouds, until it arrives he is inconsolable, nor will he desist until the Most High takes notice of him, acquits the the virtuous and delivers judgement. And the Lord will not be slow…”
Yes, the Lord really does answer prayer – and swiftly but only in the way that is best for us and NOT, necessarily, as we think we need!
The Lord, in today`s Gospel reading again tells a parable, a story, which is directed particularly at those who think themselves somebody, those who have an inflated idea of their own importance, those, particularly, who are smitten with the sin of self-righteousness – and, yes, just like those Pharisees of old, we get `em in our churches too! It is the self-righteous, I am sure that cause the most pain to Almighty God. The Pharisee in today`s parable is so proud and arrogant of doing no more than was required by the Pharisaic Law – tithing was a “given” as is fasting twice a week and, as likely as not he would have been pretty well off so did not need to be grasping though his attitude certainly seems to have been so and that self-righteous judgement of the tax collector. The sin of pride just looms out of the mouth of this self-centred bigot! The tax collector, by contrast, bows his head before the Lord standing some distance away not daring to look heavenward but rather beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” The comment of Jesus is all telling: This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.`
In this morning second reading from St. Paul`s second letter to his friend and disciple Timothy foretelling his passing from this world and whist he does tell of the suffering he endured for the sake of the Gospel and how his own followers so often let him down, he looks forward to the day when the Lord, the righteous judge, will give him the crown of righteousness but not only to Paul but to all those who have longed for his appearing. His testimony ends on a not of joyous triumph as he writes to Timothy in these words: `The Lord will rescue me from all attempts on me, and bring me safely tpo his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.