Sunday, 10/27/13

Today is a friend of mine’s birthday, and I bought her the season’s DVDs for her favorite show. But the idea of birthday presents had me looking at this Sunday’s Bible readings as presents we have from God. Let’s unwrap the three of them.

In the first reading God told us he has no favorites. Although he loves the poor, he is not overly partial to them. So, we don’t need to give up our possessions to get on his good side. He gaves assurance to widows that he listens carefully when they pour out their complaints.

The Psalm has me repeating its line of  “I will bless the Lord at all times.” It has me begging God to never let me fall away from him. Please, let me be among those who bless you.

In the Second Reading, St. Paul spoke to us in his final days. Back then, people had the custom of spilling out full cups of wine on the ground as a way of worshipping God. With death in sight, Paul said he was pouring out his final days as a libation to God.

Then, Paul, compared himself to both a boxer and a distance runner. He wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my race.” Looking back on your years, can you say the same of them? Have you kept going through your fifteen rounds in the ring. Have you plodded on to the end of your marathon?

This Gospel takes me back sixty-three years to when I had to prepare and give a sermon to my seminary class. The priest had assigned me this reading about the Pharisee and the tax collector both of whom went up to the temple to pray. 

It struck me that Jesus said the tax collector was justified, while the Pharisee was not. That is, only he was freed from his sin. But, what I saw as an interesting twist to Our Lord’s story, was that after he was justified, the tax collector didn’t become an apostle. No, he went home. He went back to his way of making a living. Our Lord was saying  you can be a real saint while being a tax collector, a soldier, or a salesman.

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