Gospel Reflection for 30th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C – October 23rd 2016 – Mission Sunday
Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else.
‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.”
The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”.
This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
- Reflection on Today’s Gospel
- Reflection for Mission Sunday
A good story gets us thinking and maybe doesn’t give an answer. This story gets us both ways. The Pharisee comes across as a boaster; proud; strutting his religion. So we say, thank God I am not like him and I am like the other! Then we are caught. So easy to judge.
We need to get in between both. Mercy is a gift which dignifies us, not keeps us down.
HE KNEW HE NEEDED HELP
The taxman knew he needed God. He brought his need for God to mind, the other really prayed from his pride.
Jesus was watching these two people. He does not judge them but says which of them was at rights with God? And then he would say to the tax fellow, come higher, come to my table, and join the Pharisee there if he will sit down in humility.
The message to both is ‘all is gift’ – your faith and the mercy of God. We need both. Mercy is like a cloak, and covers much. So let’s be happy with our faith but boast of it in a way that gives thanks to God for it.
This story leaves us with a good question – am I the one or the other, or a bit of both? If I say I am not like the one, then I am judging the other! The only answer is all are in God’s mercy, so that it lifts us up, raises us to joy in belonging to God, from whom we come and to whom we go.
Remember a time you felt forgiven, by God or another and give thanks.
Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.
Donal Neary SJ
MISSION SUNDAY REFLECTION
This is a day to remember missionaries, and one I remember is Fr Frank. He was a Jesuit who worked in Zambia. Like many he left Ireland for three years in 1956 to work as a teacher before ordination and learn the language. After ordination he returned to parishes in Zambia until 1998. I remember him, and others, visiting our school, introducing us to the world of Africa, Japan, and Hong Kong.
It was both an exciting life for them, and frustrating and lonely. Like many of their sisters in the women’s congregations, they would come home only every six years, in the days when long-haul flights were expensive.
We salute them today, many of them in the nursing homes of their religious congregation who try to look after them well.
They did all this to follow Jesus; to bring the kingdom of God into education, parishes, and health care to a new world. They wanted to make the world of the poorer nations better and in many ways they succeeded. They are followed today by many who want to do the same, in ways suited to today.
Mission Sunday is a reminder to pray for our people helping in the struggle for faith and justice, equality and peace in many countries. They need our prayers and our help, and we are proud of them.
They want to want to carry out God’s vision for the world: a world more equal, merciful, loving, a world more equal and thus a holier place for people to live in.
Can you recall someone working as a missionary? Pray for them as they come to mind.
May we in our parish, Lord, remember to support the church in other parts of the world?
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger