READINGS for 2007-10-28
BACK TO HIM
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
During my last term in college, one of the hurdles I had to go through before graduation was the final stage of our thesis. During that time, it was hard to see if God wanted us to push through with our work — after all, more than half of our block dropped the thesis once we were told of the deadline.
My thesis mates and I agreed that we would push through, and if we needed to drop, we would wait until the last minute. I prayed about it for the next few weeks, and I only felt that God was telling me to take it one day at a time, and just let Him work in us. And so we did. The next few weeks we were working until 10:00 p.m. in school. Then I had sleepless nights and panic attacks. At some point, I started to doubt — maybe I was just being hardheaded and my insistence in pushing through with the thesis was just going to lead us to failure.
But even with so many doubts, God was faithful. He told me to fight, and I fought. By the way, I finished the race — I won it, if I may add, with a high grade. And most importantly, I kept the faith... and took the road back to Him. Tina M.
Have all your efforts led you back to Jesus?
You prod me on, lead me, guide me, show me the way... all back to You.
If God is going to take sides in an issue, we can be sure that all things being equal, He will side with the poor. This ought to give us insight into the character of God and also how He desires us to live our lives. Jesus chose a life of poverty during His ministry years and before that he would have lived a simple life with His family in Nazareth. There is nothing wrong with wealth per se, but if we are going to imitate Jesus in all things, then the way that we deal with wealth will have to take on a rather extraordinary expression than that which we see in most cases that we know.
12 The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. 13 Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. 14 He is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint; 15 do not the tears that stream down her cheek cry out against him that causes them to fall? 16 He who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens. 17 The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, 18 nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right.
P S A L M
Psalm 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23
R: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
1  I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 2  Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. (R) 16  The LORD confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. 17  When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. (R) 18  The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. 22  The LORD redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him. (R)
2 Timothy 4:6-8.16-18
Paul knows that his life as a minister of the Gospel is almost spent. He recognizes that his time to join Jesus in the heavenly kingdom is about to come. Yet, he does not despair! In fact, he seems to be joyful at the thought of it all. Here we see a man whose life has been captured by faith in Jesus and the only thing that really matters to him is that he be faithful to the end. Even if all desert him as he claims is the case, this will not affect his resolve to go on believing.
6 I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. 8 From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. 16 At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
G O S P E L
It is the heart that matters most. God could not care less if we are rich or poor; brilliant or not so smart; famous or obscure. What He cares about is the reason behind the things that we do. If we pray with humility, we can be sure that we will be heard. If we pray with arrogance and self-satisfaction we can be equally sure that our prayer will be ignored. This is not because Jesus has favorites. It is simply a result of Jesus knowing when person’s intentions are noble and good or otherwise.
9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11 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. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ 13 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.’ 14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
think: It is the heart that matters most.
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Mark 14-16
My weekly time with God
THANK YOU LIST
Things to be grateful for from the past week
Things to ask God for in the coming week
Most important word God told me this week
HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER
The parable we hear in the Gospel today reflects to us the disposition we are to have in prayer. There is the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both seem to be honest and devout in their stance before God. Both men go to the temple to pray. Both are praying to God, addressing him. Both are seemingly pious and seek God with a genuine heart- so what is the problem?
Jesus addresses this parable “to those who were convinced of their own righteousness”. The Pharisee has done many things well but his heart is proud and boasting. The Pharisee boasts of his duties and responsibilities and judges himself as apart from the rest of humanity. Notice the contrast with the tax collector. He is humble, not even raising his eyes to heaven. He is aware of his failures and his weaknesses. The psalmist says, “the Lord hears cry of the poor”, the one who humbles himself in the sight of God. A very simple definition of humility given to us by Francis of Assisi is “knowing who God is and knowing who I am”. God is the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who gives good things to those who trust in Him. God has created us and watches over our life. He is the source of all blessings. The tax collector goes home justified because of his disposition of humility. He knows who he is, a tax collector, acknowledges his wrong, and seeks the mercy of God. On the other hand the Pharisee knows what he does, boasts on his duties and tells Gods who he is! Not like the rest of humanity. Isn’t it God who tells us who we are?
St. Augustine writes in relation to prayer that “man is a beggar before God”. In prayer we raise our hearts and minds to God. We have humility in our heart seeking the loving response of God who listens to the prayer of the humble. Prayer is a gift given by God. We make no possession of this gift but give God thanks for allowing us the opportunity to come and present our requests before him. Prayer is adoration and worship of the God who is a merciful and loving God. The tax collector meets all this in his humble prayer and goes away a happy man justified before his God. Fr. Brian Steele
REFLECTION QUESTION: Do I practice humility in my life before God and others? Do I pray and seek God like the tax collector? Or am I like the Pharisee who tells God who I am?
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen.
St. Abraham, archbishop, pray for us.
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