Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 28, 2007 - Year: C
Sir 35:15-17, 20-22; 2 Tim 4:6-8, 16-18; Lk 18:9-14
The Reward of the humble

First Reading...
"The Lord is the judge, and within him there is no partiality. He will not show partiality to the poor but he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged. The Lord will not ignore the supplication of the orphan, or the widow when she pours out her complaint.

The one whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and the prayer of such a person will reach to the clouds.

The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and it will not rest until it reaches its goal; it will not desist until the Most High responds and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment. Indeed, the Lord will not delay." [Sir. 35:15-17, 20-22]

Second Reading...
"As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and 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 reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

At my first defence no one came to my support but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them!

But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." [2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16-18]

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and regarded others with contempt:

'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God I thank you that I am not like other people thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.'

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'

I tell you, this man went back home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." [Lk 18:9-14]

Story:
I visited a family late in the evening. It was a tiring evening after visiting families and climbing the staircases and getting back. When I rang the bell the woman came out and welcomed me. She said “baba is about to sleep and has gone to his bedroom, and he is praying”. I was curious, and said, shall I just hear him praying? “Yes” she said, and I slowly tip toed towards the bedroom and there I could hear the 5 year old lad praying “My God, I love you, and I pray for my daddy who is far away, keep him healthy, happy and joyful; I am praying for my Mom, keep her happy, and tell her not to scold me; I am praying for my teacher who is very nice to me, but at times she gives more attention to the girl in my class than me. Please help her to show me a bit more of love. God, my Father, I pray take care of all people, help poor people to get bread, shelter and help those who are sick. God, my Father, please take care of yourself too, you see, if something happens to you, we are gone. Amen”.

In this little prayer, I was inspired very much. God help me to be like that little lad. Amen too.

Luke 18, 1: The objective of the first parable

Luke introduces this parable with the phrase: “on the need to pray continually and never lose heart”. In other passages he insists in the same way on perseverance in prayer and on the need to believe that God hears our prayer and responds to our petitions. Faith in God which responds to our petitions is the red thread which pervades the whole Bible, where, from Exodus it is ceaselessly repeated that “Go hears the cry of His People” (Ex 2, 24; 3, 7).

Luke 18, 2: Description of the attitude of the Judge

Jesus wishes to clarify for those who listen to him, which is the attitude of God before our prayer. For this, in speaking of the judge, he thinks of God the Father who is the end of the comparison which he is making. If it were not Jesus, we would not have the courage to compare God with a judge “who neither has fear of God nor respect for anyone”. This audacious comparison, made by Jesus himself, strengthens, on the one hand, the importance of perseverance in prayer and, on the other, the certainty of being heard by God the Father.

Luke 18, 3: The attitude of the widow before the judge

In the attitude of the widow before the judge we have the situation of the poor in society at the time of Jesus. Widows and orphans had no one to defend them and their rights were not respected. The fact that Jesus compares our attitude with that of the poor widow, without anyone to defend her, who seeks to claim her rights before a judge who has no human sensibility, shows Jesus’ sympathy for poor persons who insistently struggle to claim their rights.

Luke 18, 4-5: The reaction of the judge before the widow

The judge ends by giving in before the insistence of the widow. He does justice not out of love for justice, but in order to free himself from the widow who continually pesters him.

Luke 18, 6-8: Jesus applies the parable

Jesus draws the conclusion: If an atheistic and dishonest judge pays attention to a widow who insists on her petition, how much more will God, the Father, listen to those who pray to him night and day, even if he makes them wait. This is the central point of the parable, confirmed by the final question of Jesus: “When the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?· That is, will our faith be so persistent as that of the widow, who resists without losing heart, until she obtains God’s answer? Because as the Ecclesiasticus says: “It is difficult to resist the expectation of God!”

Luke 18, 9: Those to whom the second parable is addressed

This second parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector is introduced in the second phrase: “He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being upright and despised everyone else!” The phrase of Luke refers simultaneously, to the time of Jesus and to the time of Luke. Then, in the communities of the years 80’s, to which Luke addressed his Gospel, there were some holding fast to the ancient tradition of Judaism which despised those who lived in Paganism (cf. Acts 15, 1, 5).

Luke 18, 10: This introduces the theme of the parable

Two men went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee and the other a Tax collector. There could be no greater contrast between these two. In the opinion of the people of that time, a tax collector was worth nothing and could not address himself to God, because he was an impure person, in so far as a tax collector, while the Pharisee was an honoured person and a very religious one.

Luke 18, 11-12: It describes how the Pharisee prays

The Pharisee prays standing up and thanks God because he is not like others: thieves, dishonest, adulterous. His prayer is nothing else than praising himself and the things he does: he fasts and pays tithes on all he gets. It is an exaltation of his good qualities and the contempt of others, whom he despises, especially the tax collector who is together with him in the same place. He does not consider him as his brother.

Luke 18, 13: It describes how the tax collector prays

The tax collector does not dare even to raise his eyes, but he beats his heart and says: “My God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He takes his place before God.

Luke 18, 14: Jesus gives his opinion on both parables

If Jesus had asked the people, who returned home justified, all would have answered: “The Pharisee!” But Jesus thinks differently. The one who returns justified (in a good relationship with God) is not the Pharisee, but rather the tax collector. Once again, Jesus turns everything the other way round. Perhaps this application made by Jesus of the parable did not please many persons.

c) Extending the information:

i) The first Christians present us with an image of Jesus praying, who lived in permanent union with the Father. The breathing of the life of Jesus was to do God’s Will (Jn 5,19). Jesus prayed very much and insisted so that the people and his disciples also pray. Because it is in our relation with God that truth emerges and that the person finds herself in all reality and humility.

ii) The two parables reveal something of the prayerful attitude of Jesus before the Father. They reveal that even for Him it was not always easy. Like the widow you must insist very much, as it is also seen in the prayer made in the Garden of Olives (Lk 22,41-42). He insisted up until death, He did not lose heart and he was heard (Hb 5,7). The two parables also reveal his experience and intimacy with God as Father who accepts all and whose love has gratuity as a central mark. God’s love for us does not depend on what we do for Him. He has loved us first. He accepts the tax collector.

iii) Luke is the Evangelist who gives us more information about the life of prayer of Jesus. He presents Jesus in constant prayer. The following are some moments in which Jesus appears in prayer in the Gospel of Luke:
* When he is twelve years old, he goes to the Temple, to the house of the Father (Lk 2,46-50).

a)  At the moment of being baptized and of assuming his mission, he prays (Lk 3,21).

b)  When he begins his mission, he spends forty days in the desert (Lk 4, 1-2).

c)  In the hour of temptation, he faces the Devil with the texts from Scripture (Lk 4,3-12).

d)  Jesus usually participates in the celebrations in the Synagogue on Saturday (Lk 4,16).

e)  He seeks solitude in the desert to pray (Lk 5,16; 9,18).

f)   Before choosing the twelve apostles, he spends the night in prayer (Lk 6,12)

g)  He prays before meals (Lk 9,16; 24,30).

h)  Before speaking about reality and of his passion, he prays (Lk 9,18)

i)   In time of crisis, on the Mountain to pray and he is transfigured while he prays (Lk 9, 28)

j)   In revealing the Gospel to the little ones, he says: “Father, I thank you!” (Lk 10,21)

k)   In praying, he awaken in the Apostles the will to pray (Lk 11,1).

l)   He prays for Peter so that he may be strong in faith (Lk 22,32).

m)  He celebrates the Passover Supper with his disciples (Lk 22,7-14).

n)  In the Garden of Olives, he prays, and sweat becomes drops of blood (Lk 22,41-42).

o)  In the anguish of the agony he asks his friends to pray with him (Lk 22,40.46).

p)  At the hour of being nailed on the cross, he asks pardon for those who do not know what they are doing (Lk 23,34).

q)  In the hour of death, he says: “Into your hands I commend my spirit!” (Lk 23,46; Ps 31, 6).

iv) This long list indicates everything which follows. For Jesus, prayer was intimately united to life, to concrete facts, to the decisions which he had to take. In order to be faithful to the Father’s project, he tried to remain alone with him. He listened to him. In the difficult and decisive moments of his life, Jesus prayed the Psalms. Just like any pious Jew, he knew them by heart. But the recitation of the Psalms does not take away his creativity. Rather, Jesus composed himself a Psalm which he has transmitted to us. It is the Our Father. His life was a permanent prayer: “I always seek the will of the Father!” (Jn 5,19.30). To him is applied what the Psalm says “I am in prayer!” (Ps 109,4).

The Final Punch:

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.  We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.  We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of speech and expression.  We have ridiculed the time honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!”

The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest.

In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa and Korea.

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, “The Rest of the Story,” and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.

With the Lord’s help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called “one nation under God.”

If possible, please pass this prayer on to your friends. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

  Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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