Theme of the Sunday: Before God, we all stand empty-handed. The gospel today will not be easily understood unless we keep in mind what the first reading teaches us about God’s justice. God is just, says Ben Sira, not because he grants each person what the person deserves, but because he saves the poor and listens to the cries of the defenceless. The gospel tells us that this is God’s attitude. He is moved by the publican who can present only his misery and his sins. The second reading too can be seen in this light. Paul is saying that one day he will receive from God the “crown” that the just judge will give to all those who have given their lives for the Gospel. It will be a gift, not a reward due to him.
A reading from the Book of Sirach (Sirach 35:12c-14.16-18b)
“The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds.”
The Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality. He will not show partiality in the case of a poor man; and he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged. He will not ignore the supplication of the fatherless, nor the widow when she pours out her story. He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds. The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord; he will not desist until the Most High visits him, and the just judge executes judgement. And the Lord will not delay, neither will he be patient with them.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 34:2-3.17-18.19 and 23 (R. cf. 7a)
R/. The lowly one called, and the Lord heard him.
I will bless the Lord at all times,
praise of him is always in my mouth.
In the Lord my soul shall make its boast;
the humble shall hear and be glad. R/.
The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
When the just cry out, the Lord hears,
and rescues them in all their distress. R/.
The Lord is close to the broken—hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
All who trust in him shall not be condemned. R/.
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:6-8.16- 15)
“From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.”
Beloved: I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. At my first defence no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA 2 Corinthians 5:19
Alleluia. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Alleluia.
“The publican went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 18:9- 14)
At that time: Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Prayer is a relationship between the soul and God. In prayer, we measure how we have responded to the invitation to love God in every way we can. As we develop and deepen our relationship with God, our bad side gives way to our godly side. A good prayer life brings about simplicity; humility; trust; faith and conversion. These qualities we see in the Publican but are lacking in the Pharisee. The Pharisee, instead of praising God in his prayer, praises himself for his good behaviour. He proclaims himself righteous and holy even before God. He goes on to condemn a fellow man in God’s sight. In the our father, Jesus first and foremost acknowledges God’s holiness. Prayer is discovering our true self in God. We cannot claim to be perfect or holy before God. God knows us through and through. Holiness is attained through God’s grace and not by human effort or works only. Prayer makes us God’s friends and friends to others.
Prayer of the Faithful
Celebrant: Confident that God hears the prayers we make in faith, let us pray in Jesus’ name:
- For our Church and parish community, that we may seek to be servants of the poor, the lost, and the defenseless: let us pray to the Lord.
- For Pope, Bishop, Father, and for all bishops, priests, and deacons, that they may teach and share with all God’s people the “rich deposit of faith”: let us pray to the Lord.
- For the nations and peoples of the world, that the peace and justice of God may overcome violence, oppression, and hatred: let us pray to the Lord.
- For parents, teachers, counselors, and educators, that they may share with their children and students God’s vision that “will not disappoint”: let us pray to the Lord.
- For those in pain, for those who have given up hope, especially the addicted, the homeless, and the imprisoned, that they may possess the faith of the “mustard seed” enabling them to rebuild their lives: let us pray to the Lord.
- For the deceased members of our families and community, that they may live forever in the light of God’s love: let us pray to the Lord.
- For the prayers we now make in the silence of our hearts:
Gracious Father, you have given us life and hope for no other reason than your great love for us.
May this realization inspire us in every moment of our lives to be your faithful servants by being servants to one another. Hear these prayers we offer to you in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.