30th Sunday Ordinary Time 2013 The Pharisee and The Tax Collector

“ God, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here

Thomas Merton has this to say on pride from The New Man..............
"In a sense pride is simply a form of supreme and absolute subjectivity. it sees all things from the viewpoint of a limited, individual self that is constituted as the center of the universe… If I am the center of the universe, than everything beings to me. I can claim, as my due, all the good things of the earth. I can rob and cheat and bully other people. I can help my self to anything I like, and no one can resist me.
Yet at the same time, all must respect and love me as a benefactor, a sage, a leader, a king. They must let me bully them and take away all that they have and on top of it all they must bow down, kiss my feet and greet me as god.
Humility, therefore, is absolutely necessary if man is to avoid acting like a baby all his life. To grow up means, in fact, to become humble, to throw away the illusion that I am the center of everything and that other people only exist to provide me with comfort and pleasure.
Unfortunately pride is so deeply embedded in human society that instead of educating one another for humility and maturity, we bring each other up in selfishness and pride.
The attitudes that ought to make us mature too often only give us a kind of poise, a kind of veneer, that make our pride all the more suave and effective.
For social life, in the end is too often simply a convenient compromise by which your pride and mine are able to get along together without too much friction."
and Merton again .....

"In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend an imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. 

 As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities, and there is no joy in things that do not exist." 

Click here for Source and explanation from the artist Bryn Gillette of his thoughts behind the work.
I find the image above by Bryn Gillette immensely powerful.
Check out his webpage too here. It's great !

The reflection below is taken from Taize Short Meditations for 18th October here.
(Chapter 5. Luke 24:52) 

"Luke's Gospel ends with the account of the disciples bowing low with their foreheads to the ground. 

In this way, they take up a prayer posture that perhaps goes back to the remotest origins of humanity. 

It expresses the silent offering of one's life.

St. Augustine wrote, “Should you ask me what is the first thing in religion, I would reply, “The first, the second, and third thing therein is humility.” 

He goes on to say that without humility, all the other virtues are mere pretence.
Pope Francis bows on his first appearance as Pope on the balcony of St Peter's

It's interesting that this Sunday's Gospel features a tax collector because Matthew the evangelist was a tax collector and in his interview with Antonio Spadaro S.J., Pope Francis described the significance of this saint in his own life.

Spadaro says: "I have the first question ready, but then I decide not to follow the script that I had prepared for myself, and I ask him point-blank: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” 

The pope stares at me in silence. I ask him if this is a question that I am allowed to ask.... He nods that it is, and he tells me: “I do not know what might be the most fitting description.... I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

The pope continues to reflect and concentrate, as if he did not expect this question, as if he were forced to reflect further. “Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve. 

Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” And he repeats: “I ​​am one who is looked upon by the Lord.

 I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo : "By Having Mercy and by Choosing Him, was very true for me."

The motto is taken from the Homilies of Bede the Venerable, who writes in his comments on the Gospel story of the calling of Matthew: “Jesus saw a publican, and since he looked at him with feelings of love and chose him, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” The pope adds: “I think the Latin gerund miserando is impossible to translate in both Italian and Spanish. I like to translate it with another gerund that does not exist: misericordiando [“mercy-ing”].

Pope Francis said "when I had to come to Rome, I always stayed in the neighborhood of Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of ‘The Calling of St. Matthew,’ by Caravaggio.” I begin to intuit what the Pope wants to tell me.

The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio, depicting the moment at which Jesus Christ inspires Matthew to follow Him.

“That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.” Here the pope becomes determined, as if he had finally found the image he was looking for: “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ 

"Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.”

 Then the Pope whispers in Latin: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”

Fr. Richard Rohr says "You cannot avoid sin or mistake anyway (Romans 5:12), but if you try too fervently, it often creates even worse problems. Jesus loves to tell stories like that of the publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14) and the famous one about the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), in which one character does his life totally right and is, in fact, wrong; and the other who does it totally wrong ends up God’s beloved! Now deal with that!

Jesus also tells us that there are two groups who are very good at trying to deny or avoid this humiliating surprise: those who are very rich and those who are very religious. These two groups have very different plans for themselves, as they try to totally steer their own ships with well-chosen itineraries. They follow two different ways of going up and avoiding all down.

Such a down-and-then-up perspective does not fit into our Western philosophy of progress, nor into our desire for upward mobility, nor into our religious notions of perfection or holiness. “Let’s hope it is not true, at least for me,” we all say! Yet the perennial tradition, sometimes called the wisdom tradition, says that it is and will always be true. St. Augustine called it the passing over mystery (or the “paschal mystery,” from the Hebrew word for Passover, pesach).
Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,
p. xx-xxi
by Brian Kavanagh of the Hartford Catholic Worker
Response to the Psalm 34 

The Lord Hears The Cry of The Poor

"The crucifix does not signify defeat or failure. 
It reveals to us the Love that overcomes evil and sin."
Pope Francis

Sunday's second reading comes from Paul's second letter to Timothy, 
near the end of Paul's life. It's clear he is anticipating the end when he says 
"I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand."
St Paul spoke to the Philippians 2:5-8 about the complete self emptying kenosis of Christ.

" Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

In this sermon here the author says : "It would have been amazing enough for the eternal God to come to this earth as a mighty king. It was even more amazing that He came as a humble servant. But it’s almost beyond comprehension that He would even go lower and die. And, even more staggering, His death was not a noble death, but a horrible, ignoble death of a common criminal. 

 For the Jew, whoever was hanged on a tree was accursed of God (Deut. 21:23). For Gentiles, death by crucifixion was the lowest, most despicable form of death imaginable. Roman citizens were exempt from crucifixion. The Roman poet, Cicero, said, “Far be the very name of a cross, not only from the body, but even from the thought, the eyes, the ears of Roman citizens” (cited by R. P. Martin, Philippians [IVP/Eerdmans], p. 103).
So, Paul is saying that Jesus went from the height of heights to the depth of depths. We will never begin to know what glory He gave up or what humiliation He suffered on our behalf until we are with Him in glory. 

But, to grow in humility, we must think about the staggering implications of what it meant for the holy, glorious, eternal Son of God to take on human flesh; and, not the flesh of a king, but of a servant; and, stooping even lower, He willingly and obediently went to the cross for our sins."

Hope you find some nourishment here !

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