Homily for Oct 24



Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time C 2010

Several years ago, while on retreat, one of the sisters on the retreat told me a homily she once heard on today’s Gospel.  The former Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago said to a community of sisters, “If you think you pray like the tax collector, you probably are praying like the Pharisee.”


Perhaps this priest is correct.  We think to ourselves, “O thank God, I pray like the tax collector and not like the Pharisee.”  After all, I am not a real big sinner.  I am not murdering anyone, I give back to the community, sure, I commit some sins but I do so only in moderation.  I am not like those people on trash tv.  I am not like that person across the pew from me that made a huge mistake or sin years ago and everyone remembers it.  My kids aren’t in prison like so and so’s are.


When we stand before God, it does not matter how large or small our sins are because they always separate us.   Often, saints speak about the recognition of their sinfulness and how no matter how hard they try, nothing they do will overcome it.  We cannot brag because it’s God’s gift.


St. Paul expresses frustration now that he is held captive and awaiting death.  He says, “at my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me.”  Time after time, Paul encountered Christians that were so sure of themselves.  The Corinthian community was confident in themselves because they could speak in tongues.  Paul reminded them time after time that those gifts came from the Holy Spirit and even those were the least of the gifts that God wanted to bestow upon them.  The Galatians prided themselves in following God’s commandments but St. Paul told them that no one could fulfill the complete law before Jesus Christ and suddenly they could?  The Christians that were so sure of themselves deserted Paul when the time for hardship arrived.


The Pharisee is still preoccupied with himself.  He focuses on what he does even for the glory of God.  St. Paul on the other hand is preoccupied with God.  For he says, “the Lord stood by me and gave me strength.”  To be humble does not mean that we put ourselves down because that still focuses on ourselves.  To be humble means that God takes the focus of our efforts.  The Eucharist provides us with the opportunity to be grateful and to be humble for God’s countless blessings.

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