" O God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
＊＊＊ 1st Reading ＊＊＊
Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
The Lord is judge and shows no partiality. He will not disadvantage the poor, he who hears the prayer of the oppressed. He does not disdain the plea of the orphan, nor the complaint of the widow.
The one who serves God wholeheartedly will be heard; his petition will reach the clouds. The prayer of the humble person pierces the clouds, and he is not consoled until he has been heard. His prayer will not cease until the Most High has looked down, until justice has been done in favor of the righteous.
Ps 34:2-3, 17-18,19-23
The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
＊＊＊ 2nd Reading ＊＊＊
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
As for me, I am already poured out as a libation, and the moment of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness with which the Lord, the just judge, will reward me on that day; and not only me, but all those who have longed for his glorious coming.
At my first hearing in court no one supported me; all deserted me. May the Lord not hold it against them. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to his heavenly kingdom. Glory to him for ever and ever. Amen!
＊＊＊＊ Gospel ＊＊＊＊
Jesus told another parable to some persons fully convinced of their own righteousness, who looked down on others, “Two men went up to the Temple to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and said: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people, grasping, crooked, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give the tenth of all my income to the Temple.’
In the meantime the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying: ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’
I tell you, when this man went back to his house, he had been reconciled
with God, but not the other. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised up.”
Prayer of the Humble
Read: The book of Sirach declares that whereas God is impartial, the prayers of the humble have a way of claiming God’s attention. Paul declares that he has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith; and God will reward him. Through the parable on prayer, Jesus declares that God hears the prayer of the humble.
Reflect: The Pharisee’s prayer is one of comparative triumphalism. His prayer was not heard, because his was not a prayer; but a self-parading. In contrast, the tax collector presents himself before God with a sense of embarrassment. Beating his breast, he acknowledges his sinfulness and pleads for mercy. His was a true prayer and hence, was heard. Listening to Paul’s words (second reading), one might wonder if he isn’t doing a Pharisee, boasting of himself. Not so, because, Paul goes on to state that all of them was possible because “the Lord was at my side, giving me strength.” Thus, essentially, his boasting is a boasting in the Lord(cf. 1 Cor. 1:31). Delighting in God’s doing in us is an act of humility as well – as we see in Mary’s Magnificat.
Pray: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me” (‘Jesus Prayer’)
Act: Make a good confession this week.