Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 151. Sunday, Oct. 24 (30th in Ordinary Time, C).
Sirach 35:12-14.16-18. II Timothy 4:6-8.16-18. Psalm 34:2-3.17-18.19.23.
Luke gives us many of the parables of Jesus almost equalling the rest of
the Gospels. He is quite intentional in the handing on what he received
from the oral traditions about Jesus and probably from some written sayings
of Jesus used for the apostolic preaching about Jesus. Today we have the
parable of the religious leader who is contrasted with the tax-collector
who was always considered a sinner by the general public and probably by
most of the religious minded persons.
We may interpret the Gospel of Luke by what Luke himself has in other parts
of the Gospel. The same author tends to have the same themes, style, and
theology of a pastoral type. Luke may even be more atuned to this than
Mark or Matthew. For Luke everyone is invited to listen to the voice of
Jesus through his Gospel. He has told us that he is trying to assure us of
the accuracy of his Good News (Luke 1:1-4). We may therefore use other
recollections from Luke to help us understand another part of the third
evangelist. Here Mary may give us a key to understanding the meaning of the
parable and how she already had the same humility of the one who was led to
the Temple to pray and to focus on God alone. She prays in her beautiful
hymn called the Magnificat in this manner, "He (the Lord) has scattered the
proud in their conceit...and has lifted up the lowly."
The religious person is proud about what he has done for God and for
neighbor and starts his prayer by looking with disdain on the tax-collector
who is bowed over in reverence and has this to say to the Lord, "Lord, be
merciful to me a sinner." The former concentrates on himself and his
achievements and tells them to the Lord; the tax-collector remains at a
distance from the Holy of Holies in the Temple; stays in the court for men
and is entirely focused on the Lord asking, begging, and entreating the
Lord for mercy for his sins. He is like Mary in his humility and his
transparent honesty about himself. Jesus tells us that this tax-collector
is the one who leaves the Temple justified, that is, made holy and
integrated in his attentive prayer.His reverence, humility, and
attentiveness are what "justifies" him in the sight and presence of the
Some people are over zealous in what they profess as their belief and
religous conviction about their relationship with God. They assert they
are saved, having been born from above or born again as a committed
Christian. They openly prophess this, they proselytize many people who are
in reality more united to God than they and their way of boasting about
their relationship to God and their salvation. Often they are insensitive
to others and we see the contempt of the religious leader mentioned in the
parable similer to theirs.
We are all sinners and we should beg for the mercy of God each day. Our
prayer should never make us turn just on ourselves and what we have done
for God. Our focus in prayer whether alone or with others in a worship
service or Eucharist should be focused on God with reverence, humility and
attentiveness. God hears the cry of the poor that means those who realize
they are totally dependent on the providence and mercy of God.
The Psalm reiterates with the Gospel and with Sirach the message of
humility and prayer. We pray with it, "The Lord is close to the
brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit, he saves." The Lord
truly hears the cry of the poor and they like Mary of Nazareth pray humbly,
" My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."
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