Liturgy of the Word (NAB Translation) Lectionary: 150
This week’s Old Testament reading comes from the book of Sirach also known as Ecclesiasticus (which means the Church’s book). This book of the Bible is not found in Protestant Bibles but was considered canonical by the early Christian church and was an important book of wisdom in Jewish tradition during Jesus’ time. The emphasis on this reading is that God is attentive to the prayers of the poor and the humble. This theme of humility before God is present both in this first reading, as well as our responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel Reading
Our responsorial Psalm 34, reminds us of God’s concern for those who are broken-hearted, whose spirits are crushed. This is a great set up for the Gospel reading because it implies that God is most pleased with the prayers of humble people.
The Second Reading comes from the second letter of Saint Paul to Timothy Here, Paul says famously toward the end of his life “I fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.” It is example of what we hope to be able to say at the end of our lives. Notice how he acknowledges the Lord as his source of strength saying, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me power.”
In our Gospel reading from Luke we are invited to look at how we pray, and what our attitude should be. Jesus contrasts two attitudes. Although the Pharisee does good things like tithing and fasting, he fails to fully recognize that even his desire to do these things is itself a gift from God, not his own achievement. The Pharisee is only half-converted to God. In the book of James we hear that faith without works is a dead faith, but in this passage we see a corresponding truth – that works without faith and love are “dead works.” Lacking the internal transformation that God is seeking, there is a dis-connect when our works lack humility and charity. Notice how the Pharisee’s prayer is basically a monologue– he’s really just reciting a list of his own accomplishments. Does he realize he is failing when he looks down his nose at others? Is he really doing everything that God requires? Why is there no mention of acts of mercy? The truth is that he isn’t justified in feeling superior because his point of comparison is flawed. Can any of us claim superiority when we simply compare ourselves to other members of fallen humanity rather than to the holiness of God? The lesson for us is that no matter what good we accomplish, we must resist all temptations toward pride, superiority, or taking credit. Our attitude rather, should be like the tax- collector in this story who left the temple in God’s favor because of his honesty, humility, and conversion of heart. Then of course, we must also do good works like the Pharisee, but these works will have a spiritual value that was lacking in the works of Pharisee.
Reflection done by Steve Scott
Theme song – Ignite – Soundwave soundwave.cc
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