Praise to God or Praise to Oneself

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Come and See 30

30th Sunday Ordinary Time C
Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Luke 18: 9-14

The Sunday’s Readings continue to teach us about prayer. Last Sunday, the Readings invited us to persevere in prayer. Today, the Liturgy invites us to have a proper attitude of prayer. We should pray to God; we should not pray to ourselves.

The first Reading reminds us of our true identity. No matter who we are, we do need God. No matter how much we advance in technology, we always need God. “Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization…Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough.”[1]

A Pharisee in the parable refers to those who do not need God in modern time. In other words, he is proud of his successes, his achievements; and then he comes to God to praise himself, not to praise God. He completes all good things, even religious matters, based on his own ability. There is no room for God in his achievements. He himself achieves all things.

On the contrary, a tax-collector comes to know himself and to know God on his knees. He prays with God and he also connects his failures with God’s mercy by striking his breast as a confession that without God he can do nothing, even prayer. He comes to know his true identity in weakness and failure. He acknowledges that “for power shines forth more perfectly in weakness (2 Cor 12:9).

According to William Barkley[2], three points that we can learn from the Reading. (1) “No one who is proud can pray.” Because “in our pride we forget God and think that what we have we gained by our own power and cleverness.”[3] (2) “No one who despises others can pray.” Because hatred closes our heart to others. And (3) “True prayer comes from setting our lives beside the life of God.” Because only walking side by side in a complete harmony with God, we can immerse into his divine love.

My dear friends, standing before the altar this Sunday, how should you pray to your Father?

[1] Benedict XVI, Letter to Seminarians, October 18, 2010.
[2] William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Kentucky: JWK:2001), 266.
[3] José H. Gomez, Men of Brave Heart (Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor: 2009),88.
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