First reading. Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14, 16-19
Responsorial Psalm. 33:2-3,17-19,23. The Lord hears the cry of the poor
Second reading. 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18 .
Gospel. Luke 18:9-14
Today’s gospel is about true inner humility.. and also refraining from judging others. The Pharisee in the gospel seemed a righteous and upright man who outwardly did everything God’s law required….but inside his heart and mind we discover that he was filled with pride and conceit and judgmentalism.
His actions were loveless and uncharitable, and he looked down on his neighbour who outwardly did not appear to be as righteous as the Pharisee seemed to be. ….
Meanwhile.. unbeknownst to anyone.. the tax collector’s mind and heart was actually very close to God. He was penitent and humble.. and knew his place .. He recognized his absolute need for God’s grace and mercy and that he did not deserve or merit God’s gifts, and that God gave this grace and mercy out of love and that we all depend on God’s generous love…
This gospel brings to mind the life of Saint Thérèse' of Lisieux, the little Flower. Her famous 'little way' built on such thoughts......It turns out that actually Thérèse's thinking did not focus primarily on what one did but why and how. She also was too well aware, as Saint Paul writes, that it is possible to do great acts of bravery or charity or sacrifice but for a wrong motive.
Thérèse knew that a person can do a kindness to someone not out of love but of pride or superiority. The action is still good but it does not foster love within the person nor strengthen unity between God and ourselves. Such acts do no good whatsoever, (as St Paul puts it).
Also, a person can do something that appears outwardly and mistakenly to be selfish or hurtful but their inner intention and object was quite the opposite and may have actually been done out of love or well-meaning goodwill.
St Thérèse gives an example of a time her superior asked her and another nun: Which of you two would like to go and open the door to let in the man delivering the Christmas tree?”
Thérèse (filled with love and concern) believed that her fellow nun would have loved to do this, so she rose from her seat slower than the other, slowly untying her apron and put slowly putting her hand up. The superior, mistaking her motivation of her heart for selfishness, singled out Thérèse in front of everyone and said 'Aha, so Thérèse didn't want to go and do the hard work, so she responded slowly. No glory for you then!"
Everyone assumed she had acted selfishly; but her inner motivation was not that at all. Her actions or others judgements on those actions did not reveal the true motivation of her loving heart.
On top of this, and in the true spirit of the Gospel, Thérèse also determined never to try to justify or explain herself if wrongly judged; for she felt it would be her pride that would be trying to prove that she did not act selfishly. Also Thérèse would not have even shared this example to anyone even in her writing but she was ordered to write down her life and insights as an act of absolute religious obedience under her mother superior's direct request. Another sacrifice for what might have looked to some like self- promotion.
So Thérèse showed that she had a healthy caution when it came to judging merely external acts. Outward appearances can be quite misleading and ambiguous. Thérèse also had developed a disinterest in both receiving both compliments and condemnation from others. (Her previous experience had taught her that the judgements of others as to her inner heart or anyone else's were unreliable to say the least) – and only God knows the human heart and its true motives.
There is a little example that Thérèse cites which I love ………One day she was walking along and a nun said to her, “my… my, aren't you getting chubby. My goodness you are putting on weight. ……” Thérèse nodded respectfully and kept walking. Then Thérèse met another nun as she continued along the same corridor and the older nun said to her: "My goodness child, you are so thin. Dear me you are wasting away. You are like a skeleton. You will never be healthy if you don't get fatter." Two completely opposite judgements within seconds of each other, based on incorrect assumptions from external appearances.
Incidents like these underlined to Thérèse that she ought not rely on others opinions and judgements in order to get a sense of self-worth, that really comes alone from her identity as an infinitely beloved child of God and not by our own merits or virtues or what other people think of our hearts or motives. Thérèse also believed strongly in the scripture passage 'judge not and you shall not be judged.'
Fr Paul W. Kelly
"Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux” (1898)
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Thirtieth Sunday of the Year C .
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you have revealed yourself as the way to the Father: Lord, have mercy//You have poured out on your people the Spirit of truth: Christ, have mercy//You are the Good Shepherd, leading us to eternal life: Lord, have mercy.//
1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.
2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.
3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.
Sundays Ordinary IV p.30
Eucharistic Prayer II p.56
Go forth, the Mass is ended.
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