30th Sunday in O.T. (SSVP USA)

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

Author: Kieran Kneaves, DC · Year of first publication: 2016 · Source: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of the United States.
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Gospel: (Luke 18:9-14)

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


The Pharisee was righteous and his boast before God was true: he does exemplary things (fasting and paying tithes), even more than is expected. His prayer, however, while addressed to God in thankfulness, is actually filled with himself and his own pride. He “took up his position,” presumably one where he will be seen and recognized. He praises himself rather than God. He does not acknowledge who God is but, rather, he simply exalts himself. Tax collectors, on the other hand, were hated and known for their unscrupulous practices. But the tax collector’s prayer allows God to be God and to show mercy. The tax collector stands afar off, but his prayer draws him near to God. Justification is addressing God as God and letting God be God. It is acknowledging humbly who we are before God: sinners in need of mercy. Good works alone don’t justify us—but only humility in the face of our all-holy and merciful God brings exaltation. (Living Liturgy, p.232)

Vincentian Meditation:

 It was precisely because the Pharisee despised others that he was not accepted by God, nor his prayer either. It is easy to despise others almost without knowing it. The next time we read this parable, we would do well at the end of it to stand for a moment at the door of the Temple and ask if we despise anybody. It is only when we have answered this question with a no that we can enter the temple and begin the prayer of the publican: “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” (McCullen, Deep Down Things, p. 585)

Discussion: (Share your thoughts after a moment of silence)

In our service to those who are poor is there anybody we “despise” or judge?

Closing Prayer:

For the grace to love those who are despised and rejected,
-Lord, hear our prayer.

For the grace to serve those who need our compassion and mercy,
-Lord, hear our prayer.

For the grace of humility and honesty,
-Lord, hear our prayer.


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