Homily 30th Sunday of Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Sir 35:12-14,16-18;Ps 34:2-3,17-19,23;2 Tim 4:6-8,16-18 and Luke 18:9-14
Trusting Humility Brings us Back to God
As our Lord continues his journey of love and service to Jerusalem he intensifies his healing and teaching ministry to humanity as a whole, beginning with disciples. Today he uses the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector to teach us trusting humility and willing services to our neighbors, particularly the poor and the lowly.
Historically as we know the Pharisees are those that Jesus had to face through out his ministry. The Pharisees were those who kept the law, or at least thought they kept the law, while the tax collectors however were engage in profession that some thought extortion and dishonesty might slip in. The differences between the two as the went up to pray is that the former thought he had everything; while the later had a sense of unworthiness and needs for God’s grace.
In the Gospels the Pharisees would say one thing and do another. It represents Pride. It takes an attitude of arrogance and self justification for one to say, “I thank you God I am not like the rest of humanity- greedy, dishonest, adulterous, and even like this tax collector… I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes…; which also reflects the way the Pharisees sees God, a manager of a company he could bribe or go to work for. Pharisaism represents temptation of pride that Christians would have to work hard to overcome.
What the Lord has always required of us is an attitude of humility and total surrender to God. It is this same tone that Ben Sira communicated to his contemporaries of the Second Century BC: The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. He hears the cry of the poor not just that of the Pharisees. He listens to the wailing of the orphan and of the widow, but not necessarily to the noise of self-justified Pharisees. The sincere prayer of the lowly, of the poor and of the humble, pierces the heavens. It reaches to God ( Sir 35:12-14,16-18), who is close to the brokenhearted, and constantly hears their cry (Ps 34).
In fact, being a new creation in Christ or getting to wear that crown of glory and righteousness demands that every Christian, all of us, reverses our natural tendencies as Paul had done, hinted in the Second Reading (2 Tim 4:6-6,16-18). He was once arrogant. Paul was once anti- Christians. Paul was once a persecutor of the Christians, the poor and the widows. But changed to become a pro-Christ and a humble servant of the Gospel of the poor. He wrote many letters, and some to Timothy and encouraged various Christian communities. He became all things to all people. He was imprisoned, beaten and shipwrecked. Like Christ who went to the cross the lay down his life for all, Paul allowed himself to be “poured out like a libation.” During his trials only God came to his defense.
On our Christian journeys, as Christ’s disciples, temptations abound: false sense of security and monopoly of the truth, arrogance, self-righteous-attitude, inconsistencies in practice of virtues and works of mercies, rejections and loneliness. In all these, we want to be like the Publican/Tax collector and Paul, serving others. We want to always be on our knees before God. We want to constantly and humbly trust in his power of defense, in his tender love, and unending mercy and compassion.