October 22, 2019
“Today’s readings offer valuable lessons concerning trust and humility, both of which serve as important criteria for Christians in developing healthy prayer practices and a deeper relationship with God” (Matt Charbonneau, “30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,” Living With Christ, October 2019). Today’s first Communion Antiphon focuses on our receiving God’s saving help (which is always present) and joyfully praising God for it. Note also that the word-concept “righteousness/righteous” occurs in the First Reading, the Psalm Response, the Second Reading, and the Gospel. The Scriptural Entrance Antiphon, the Opening Prayer, and the Prayer Over the Offerings tell us very clearly what righteousness is.
The First Reading tells us that true humility (which is at the basis of humility) and righteousness really pays off in regards to our prayer life but also in regards to how we live out this important virtue. Note the following powerful words in this First Reading: “the person whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and their prayer will reach the clouds. The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and it will not rest until it reaches its goal.” This is how we should pray if we are righteous. In response, today’s Responsorial Psalm magnifies this thrust or direction of being truly righteous.
Now consider the Second Reading. Paul here is writing from jail where he has been placed because of his Faith. Basically, Paul tells us to keep our Faith and to truly live out of that Faith. Paul clearly and forcefully states he is going to battle for his Faith until the end and his Faith (righteousness) tells him he will succeed to continue living out of the great gift of his Faith.
The selection of the Gospel today from Luke’s Gospel presents to us the parable of the pompous Pharisee and the humble tax collector. Realize that tax collectors were hated in Jewish society because they took away good money from God’s People (the Jews) and gave it to pagan infidels (the Romans) who took the money to the Empire outside the Holy Land! Note also that righteousness can be made corrupted and evil and toxic if it is self-righteousness. Here righteousness has become spiritually negative and unhealthy. Also, in more modern terminology, note that the tax collector is open to God’s grace but not the Pharisee whose prayer is too one-sided.
So, overall, forget and forgo self-aggrandizement and humbly faithfully expectantly confidently wait upon God and receive His/Her copious graces and benefits to us. Ask God in fervent honest prayer for the grace of true righteousness – something we all need!
God bountifully bless us all! Amen!