HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 23 2022
“Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”
Jesus told many parables. Some were told to His disciples. Others were told to the crowds. Still others were told to Pharisees. In the Gospel of today (Luke 18:9-14), the parable is directed to the Pharisees who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.
In this parable, a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the temple to pray. The Bible says the Pharisee prayed to himself. He prayed to himself because he assumed the place of God who is all-good. He took the position of a sinless being. He who prays to himself worships himself. He makes a god of himself. The Pharisee prayed about how good he was, but the tax collector asked for God’s mercy as he was a sinner. Jesus said that it was the tax collector who went home justified before God. He concluded, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Tax collectors were hated in biblical times and were regarded as sinners. They were Jews who worked for the Romans, so this made them traitors. People resented paying taxes to the foreigners who ruled over them. Tax collectors were not paid an actual wage by the Romans, they were expected to take extra money and keep some for themselves. Many tax collectors were dishonest and abused this system by taking far too much.
Jesus wants to teach people the importance of praying with the right attitude.
The Pharisees thought that the way to enter God’s kingdom was by keeping a lot of rules. Not only the rules that God gave Moses in the Old Testament, but also a bunch of rules that the Pharisees and religious leaders had added to the law over the course of many years. The Pharisees and other very religious Jews were really the only ones who kept all the rules that had been added to the law. They thought that all the people who didn’t keep their rules were much to bad and sinful to ever be acceptable to God.
The Pharisee was full of love and respect for himself. But he didn’t seem to have any love and respect for God and others. But the tax collector was quite different. He knew he was a sinner, and he was sincere in his desire to repent. The tax collector was honest about himself as he prayed. He was sad about the fact that he was a sinner, and he was humble in his need for God’s mercy.
The attitude of the Pharisee in the temple and the content of his prayer shows that there are people who come to Church just to judge others in the name of prayer. And it is possible to have people within pews on Sundays who are so occupied with so much hate for the persons sitting next to them. Sometimes, they feel certain individuals are only wasting time in Church; they shouldn’t bother to mingle with the saints because they won’t have any place in God’s Kingdom. A sinner who doesn’t accept he is a sinner may likely go to hell. A sinner who knows he is a sinner may like seek forgiveness and go to heaven. In our relationship with God, the power of awareness is crucial. And when you are aware that you are a sinner like others, you bear with other sinners. When you think you are better, you make yourself a god over others. The Pharisee lacked the power of awareness.
One of the best tests of spiritual maturity is this: how willing am I to love and pray for those whose beliefs and behaviours are unacceptable to me Instead of condemning them. God alone is the Judge and His judgment is always true and just (Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18). We should leave judgment for Him.
Again, what we say in prayer may not be as important as our heart condition. We may speak in tongue and shout out beautiful words and phrases but if our heart is evil towards others we are doing nothing. This also shows that the obstacles to our prayers may not be outside of ourselves. That our thoughts can block God’s blessings in our lives. Is it not funny that you may be the problem of your church member who sits in the same pew with you even without your knowledge? The tax collector didn’t even know he was the problem of the same Pharisee who had come to pray in the temple. This is the life we live daily.
The righteousness of man comes from the righteousness of God. It is in the light of God we see our own light, for cut off from Jesus we can do nothing. The Pharisees believed their righteousness came from obeying the rules.
There are people who may never check the records of others if God were to give them a portion of humanity to judge. They would simply look at them and conclude they are qualified for hell. We bless God that He cannot be man. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us and protect us from the danger of self-righteousness through Christ Our Lord Amen.