Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 24, 2010
Sirach 35: 12 – 14, 16 – 18
II Timothy 4: 6 – 8, 16 – 18
Luke 18: 9 – 14
The Parable that the Church has placed in the Gospel for this Sunday Mass is the story of the Publican and the Pharisee at prayer in the Temple.
Publicans were despised by their fellow Jews and considered notorious because they were employed by the Romans to collect the hated taxes for the Empire. By contrast, the Pharisees were seen to be perfect in every way.
In the Parable, however, Jesus up-ends this popular opinion by placing each man in the opposite light. A close examination finds that, in reality, the Pharisee, for all of his “perfection,” is filled on the inside with an insufferable, self-righteousness and hypocrisy; in fact, he scorns his fellow man in the person of the Publican.
On the other hand, the tax collector, with all of his sins and shortcomings, is an honest and humble man. He knows who and what he is and has come to the Temple to ask God for mercy.
The Pharisee makes the mistake common to all hypocrites. He makes himself the model for others to imitate. He is blind to his sins and does not believe he is in need of Divine Mercy.
This Gospel passage is a helpful basis for a personal examination. No one of us can make the claim that he is sinless. Only God is sinless. Only He is perfect.
May the Grace we receive at this Holy Mass prompt us to repeat with humility the prayer of the Publican in the Temple: “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”