Paul the intense and
dynamic fighter for the Lord, was left alone. He had returned to Jerusalem to
consult with the twelve original apostles. He had gone to the Temple to pray.
Then those who were fighting against this new Jewish sect now called Christians
saw Paul and told the crowd that this is the man who is preaching blasphemy.
They began beating him. Paul was rescued by the Romans. They had to carry him
over the crowd to keep him alive. Paul was then brought before Claudius Lysias,
the Roman Tribune. Ananias the high priest came to demand Paul's death. Forty
of the Jews vowed to neither eat nor drink until Paul was put to death. And
Paul was left all alone.
This is what
Paul is speaking of in today's second reading from the Second Letter to
Timothy. Alone and helpless Paul cried out for help and was heard. And the tax
collector in the parable in today’s Gospel suffered from the loneliness caused
by his sins. That is what sin does, you know. It causes us to be alone in the
mud of our lives, like the Prodigal Son, alone in the slop of the pigsty. But
back to the tax collector. He worked for Rome, collecting money from his own
people. He was a thief, demanding from the Jews more than the Romans would
demand he return to them. He used the Roman guards as his means of enforcing
his arbitrary decisions. The tax
collector had many things. He was rich. But he was alone. He had no friends
other than other tax collectors, people as despicable as he was. His own
countrymen hated him. His family was embarrassed by his wealth and probably wanted
nothing to do with him. He hated himself. Surely God must hate him. So he
slipped into the Temple and sincerely sought God's forgiveness. And God heard
the cries of this abandoned one.
Now the Pharisee
comes to the Temple, not to cry out for help, but to remind God of his goodness.
He fasts. He pays tithes. He reminds God that he is not like so many others who
are grasping and crooked and adulterous. The Pharisee has no sense of
dependence on God. He is so full of himself that he doesn't recognize his own
emptiness. He does not have enough sense to ask God to help him be a better
person. He thinks he has everything. He leaves the Temple with nothing.
And so we come
to Church today seeking God’s Presence to fill our emptiness. We recognize how
our sins have left us isolated in our worlds. We have lost close friends
because we have not been able to control our tongues. We have destroyed
relationships when we have allowed fantasy to be confused with reality. We have
not loved as we could love because we have tried loving ourselves instead of
others. As a result there are times that we don't even like ourselves, let
alone love ourselves. So we come before the Lord, alone, abandoned by some whom
we love, perhaps abandoned by our own self esteem. And we ask the Lord to hear our cries.
Or perhaps we
have done our best to serve God, to live as committed Catholics and, as a
result, we have lost friends. We stay away from the parties and people who
would destroy our essence, our spiritual life. This has cost us. We are laughed
at, scorned, avoided and excluded by the so-called in crowd, the popular kids
at school, at work or in the neighborhood. We come to Church today, and we ask
the Lord to hear our cries.
And He does hear
us. And He responds with the greatest gift there is. He calls to us on the
cross and asks, "Do you think that you are the first person to feel
abandoned?" He responds with His Presence. He tells us to believe that He
is with us, Emmanuel, God with his people.
He fills up our emptiness. He helps us to love others by helping us see
His presence in them. He helps us to love ourselves by helping us see the
capacity we have to reflect His Image to the world. He gives our lives meaning.
We are not
alone. We have the Lord, and He has us. He is with each of us as individuals,
and all of us as His family. Yes, we know the abandonment that our sins have
caused, but we are filled with the Divine Presence among us and within us. We
are hungry, and here we are fed.
Our prayer today is the Pilgrim's prayer, the
Jesus prayer, "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord Jesus, Have mercy on me a sinner. Lord
Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner." And throughout the pilgrimage of our
lives, we cry out, "I am not worthy to be in your presence Lord, but I
need you too much to leave." The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;
it does not rest till it reaches its goal ■
 Sunday 27th
October, 2013, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14,
16-19. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Ps 32(33):2-3, 17-19, 23. 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18. Luke 18:9-14.
Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.