Pastors reflection with Fr Carl

True humility is the hallmark of prayer

The central theme of today’s Gospel is that true humility must be the hallmark of our prayers. But the primary focus of today’s parable is not prayer, but rather pride, humility, and the role of grace in our salvation.

The first reading from Sirach is a perfect companion piece to the gospel parable. In one striking image from Sirach, the writer talks about “the prayer of the lowly, piercing the clouds to reach the unseen throne of God.” Such prayers are heard because they come from the hearts of people who know how much they need God. Although God has no favorites and answers the prayers of all, the oppressed, the orphans, the widows, and those who can least help themselves are His special concern.

The best prayer is humble and selfless service.

In the second reading, Paul celebrates that he is near the finish line of his life, like a runner running a race, and that he has kept his faith up to this point. He humbly awaits “the crown of righteousness” that only God can give him. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!”

How do we develop the Spirit of the prayer of the publican in our lives?

Evict the Pharisee and revive the publican in each one of us.

There is a big dose of the Pharisee’s pride in us and a small dose of the tax collector’s humility. Hence, in today’s Gospel Jesus, invites us to make a pilgrimage from pride to humility.

In a sense, the proud Pharisee in us thinks he is like God, forgetting that there is no room for two Gods in anyone’s life. If we think we are God, we deceive ourselves. That’s why the humble tax collector, who asked God for mercy, went home and reconciled with God while the proud Pharisee did not.

If we are not sensitive to other people, we are not sensitive to God. The Pharisee was not sensitive to the tax collector, and hence he was not sensitive to God. The tax collector was sensitive to his own failings and thus was equally sensitive to God. Sensitivity to other people and sensitivity to God go hand in hand.

The deepest reason why so few of us are saints is that we will not let God love us.

To be loved means to be defenseless before God, to surrender completely and unconditionally to Him, holding out empty hands to receive Him in all humility.

Let us have the correct approach in our prayer life.

For most of us, prayer means asking God for something when we are in need. We conveniently forget the more important aspects of prayer: adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. How many of us remember to say, “Thank you, God, for giving me another day,” when we wake up in the morning? How many of us show gratitude for our health, jobs, food, and other daily needs?

If our earthly life runs along smoothly, we are likely to forget God. When misfortune strikes, however, we suddenly remember that there is a God and want Him to come to our aid immediately. God, however, judges justly. He gives to each according to his merit. If we have forgotten God through our years of prosperity, how can we expect him to take notice of us when something goes wrong?

God never intended us to spend our days on our knees. He intends us to be up and doing, earning our daily bread honestly, performing each day’s work in a spirit of service. Our day’s work and our day’s recreation, if offered for the honor and glory of God, are prayers pleasing in His sight.

Let us ask for God’s unconditional love and mercy during the Holy Mass.

The Gospel is about God’s divine mercy.

The tax collector saw this clearly: “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”

We repeat this phrase at the Holy Mass and in the Divine Mercy Prayer: “Eternal Father, we offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”

Therefore, we are gathered together every Sunday morning. We tell God that we offer Him His dearly beloved Son in atonement for our sins.

Let us conclude with the Divine Mercy Prayer: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and the whole world.”

Let us pray with the honesty of the publican who knows his need for God.

Love and Peace,
Fr. Karl

Stewardship Reflection

Both the first reading and today’s Psalm say clearly that the Lord hears the cry of the poor. Have I been given the gifts – of time or money or abilities – to be the means by which God answers their need?