October 27/28, 2007

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

First Reading: Sirach 35: 15-17, 20-22
Second Reading: 2Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18
Gospel: Luke 18: 9-14

The stories of the widow, Paul and the Tax Collector have one thing in common: recognition of our dependency upon God, for it is God who alone brings meaning to our “emptiness.” On the other hand, the disposition of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee at prayer is a great revelation that none of us is entirely perfect. And so I ask: “Have you ever lost union with parents, siblings and relatives, or have you ever lost closeness to friends because of what you said or thought about them or acted towards them?” “Have you ever destroyed or lost a relationship because of your attitude – just because we refuse to distinguish reality from fantasy?” “Have you ever seen your loved one slip from your hands because we were so selfish, so self-centred or preoccupied with what is good for “me” in relationship?”

In such instances where we face loneliness and abandonment all alone – and sometimes without hope, we turn to God singing: Refrain: The Lord hears the cry of the poor, blessed be the Lord.
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise is ever in my mouth; Let my soul glory in the Lord; For he hears the cry of the poor. Refrain:

Feeling a sense of loneliness, abandonment and a certain degree of despair, St. Paul declared in today's second reading, 'At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me.” But Paul still had hope that, “The Lord would stand by him and give him strength, so that through him Jesus’ message of love and harmony, of justice, of peace and of hope might be fully proclaimed so that even Gentiles might hear and live by it.

Even feeling alone and rejected as we all feel rejected at times, Paul still believed that he had to be a libation to people around him just as Jesus became our perfect libation for the remission of our sins. St. Paul is teaching that we do not condemn others unnecessarily. Even though Paul appeared to stand condemned and alone, Paul felt assured that God would rescue him from every evil attack and save him for his heavenly kingdom. For this, Paul proclaimed this affirmation, “To him be the glory forever and ever.” Amen. Like the loneliness felt by Paul, the widow and the Tax Collector, we also sometimes feel “orphaned” and “abandoned” by those we trust – and in despair we cry out: “O Lord, hear my prayer; O Lord, hear my prayer; When I call, ans-wer me” [2X];

“O Lord, hear my prayer; O Lord, hear my prayer; Come and listen to me.”

I hope we do know that even when we feel alone and abandoned, God never forsake us, just as he did not forsake Jesus on the Cross. When Jesus cried, Eloi, Eloi! Lama sabacthani” – [singing] “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” God came to Jesus’ aid and gave him strength and a renewed life full of hope. In short, God became really present to Jesus and took away Jesus’ fears. As God becomes present to us in times of need, so does God challenge us to reflect his image and likeness to all the people we encounter in our day-to-day living experiences. And yes, when we reflect God’s image and likeness to others, especially to the lonely and the abandoned, we give meaning to their lives; we give them nourishment just as Jesus will soon nourish us at this [pointing at] Eucharistic meal.

The book of Sirac 35, concludes that “the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds, and does not rest until it reaches its goal. Like St. Paul, Jesus must become our greatest treasure to fight for. We must run the race and not give up. We must keep the faith in Jesus as if everything we have acquired in life has no meaning than Jesus. As Catholics, as Church, as parish and parishioners – as conscientious individuals, how do we evaluate our contact or intimacy and relationship with God? Wealth is OK, but the one question we must ask ourselves is this: “What crown do we expect to wear at the end of our life journey here on earth?”

May this Eucharist remind us to seek union with God, who alone fulfills all emptiness!

 

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

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