FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C (4)







FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.

THEME: EVICTING THE PHARISEE AND REVIVING THE TAX COLLECTOR IN US.

BY: Rev. Fr. Gerald Muoka.

HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 23 2022.

R1 – Sir 35:12-14,16-18
R2 – 2Tim 4:6-8,16-18
GOSPEL – Luke 18:9-14

A story was told about Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, who visited a prison one day. Each of the prisoners he spoke with claimed to be innocent: the victim of misunderstanding, prejudice, or simple injustice. Finally, the king stopped at the cell of an inmate who remained silent. “I suppose you’re innocent too,” Frederick remarked. “No, sir,” the man replied. “I’m guilty. I deserve to be here.” Turning to the warden, the king said: “Warden, release this scoundrel at once before he corrupts all these fine, innocent people in here.”

Beloved in Christ, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy invite us to adopt the proper dispositions toward prayers and our personal relationship with God and equally shun the wrong ones. Such dispositions are displayed by the major characters in the Gospel reading: the tax collector and the Pharisee. This is an indication that in each of us, there is always the tendency towards ‘Phariseeism’ (self-righteousness) and Tax Collectism’ (humbled and contrite heart). Hence, Jesus invites us to tame and evict the Pharisees and to awaken and revive the Tax Collector in us.

The first reading, tells us of God’s care for the lowly and their prayer reaches the courts of heaven. Ben Sirach writes, “the prayer of the lowly, pierces the clouds to reach the unseen throne of God.” Thus, the best prayer is humble and selfless service.

In today’s Second Reading, we find examples of Paul’s humility. Here Paul states that his death was imminent and his departure from this life and his return to Christ was certain. Writing from his prison cell in Rome, he was not seeking pity, nor was he boasting of all he had done in the Holy Name of Jesus. On the contrary, he had offered everything he had to God, treasure, talent and time, and pre-eminently his life. Paul boldly exclaimed that he has fought the good fight, he has run a good race, and he has kept the faith.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. They both went to the privileged place to pray. The former expresses self-righteousness and pride, while the latter expresses guilt and tepidity before God. The story simply shows the way to being right with God in prayer, because, the prayer of the humble pierces the clouds and it will not rest until it reaches its goal.

*PHARISSEISM OR TAX COLLECTISM: WHICH WAY?*
In today’s Gospel, we see the Pharisee praying as one who needed no forgiveness, and he got none. On the other hand, we see the tax collector who prayed as one in need of forgiveness and mercy, and he received it. Considering their tendencies and dispositions before God will help us realize where we belong.

(1) *PHARISEEISM:*
The parable was mainly intended to convict the Pharisees who, on the one hand, proudly claimed they obeyed all the rules and regulations of the Jewish Law, while on the other hand, they ignored the Mosaic precepts of mercy and compassion. The Pharisees were looked upon as devout, law-abiding citizens and models of righteousness. But they were proud and self-righteous.

While praying, the proud, self-righteous Pharisee did not really go to pray to God, but only to tell God how good he was in the guise of thanking Him. He said this prayer “to himself”! His prayer was also ineffective because in his pride, he despised all others, including the tax collector, labeling them sinners. He was really a good man, but he lacked compassion for others. If the first big mistake of the Pharisee was to think that God would be impressed by his boasting, the second was in his thinking that he was better than others. The Pharisee got what he asked for, which was nothing, while the sinner got what he asked for, which was everything. Two things especially make our prayers void and of no effect: a proud sense of our own righteousness, and a contempt for others.
In essence, when we boast
about our successes while
giving no credit to God, when we look to people to acclaim and acknowledge us for our successes, and when we denigrate and underestimate others with
crude remarks that offend them,
we turn into the arrogant Pharisee.

*TAX COLLECTISM*
The tax collectors, on the other hand, were the most-hated group in Israel because they collected taxes for a foreign empire and became rich by cheating people, often threatening them with false accusations. In other words, they collaborated with the Romans and stole from the Jews. Hence, they were considered by their fellow-Jews to be traitors, unclean, and sinful. The parable, however, shows that both men were sinners: the difference was that the publican realized, acknowledged, and repented of his sins, but the Pharisee did none of these.

But while at prayer, the Tax Collector stood at the back of the Temple and would not even lift his eyes to God. He confessed his sins and humbly asked for God’s mercy. His prayer was short, but to the purpose. His heartbroken, humble prayer opened his heart entirely to God, which enabled him to receive the merciful acceptance God desires to give all of us. The tax-collectors only virtue was his active humility, which led him to repentance and prompted him to ask for mercy.

_*LIFE MESSAGES*_

(i) *WE SHOULD ESCHEW ALL FORMS OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS*
Self-justification is a great tragedy and impediment to the Christian journey. It deprives and denies us of the grace of God; and who are we to work without grace of God? We must accept our place as weak humans despite the efforts we make as God’s children. The Scripture affirms, “For though the upright falls seven times, he gets up again; the wicked are the ones who stumble in adversity” (Proverbs 24:16). And at another instance, we are reminded that, “If God should mark our guilt, who can stand”(Ps 130:3). So, God cannot give grace to the self-righteous because they are too full for it. If we prove to be proud, then there is not much room for God. On the other hand, if we are truly humble, we will find grace, mercy and peace. There must be a space in our lives for grace to enter and work its miracle.

(2) *WE SHOULD IMITATE THE HUMILITY AND SINCERITY OF THE TAX COLLECTOR BEFORE GOD.*
Another lesson from today’s liturgy is the need to be lowly and humble before God and man. Jesus challenges us to imitate the humble publican (tax collector) by recognizing our complete dependence on God and His grace for all of our accomplishments and blessings, confessing to God daily our sinfulness and asking for His pardon and forgiveness, praying for God’s continued daily support through His grace, praying for God’s strengthening through the daily anointing of His Holy Spirit living within us, and becoming more aware of the needs and feelings of others.

Finally, a news reporter once asked St. Teresa of Calcutta if she had ever been tempted to be proud. Mother Theresa retorted with a smile, “Proud about what?” The reporter replied, “Why, about the wonderful things you have been doing for the poorest of the poor!” Then came her answer, “I never knew I had done anything, because it was God who worked in and through my Sisters and volunteers.” True humility differentiates a saint from a sinner. If we are proud of our talents, our family connections, our reputation, or our achievements in life, today’s Gospel tells us that we need Jesus to rid us of our pride and make us truly humble.

Beloved, humility counts before God. Like St Teresa of Lisieux, may we learn to exclaim, “In simplicity and humility I follow.”

*BENEDICTION*
MAY THE LORD GRAND US A HUMBLE AND CONTRITE HEART, TO BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE OUR WORTHLESSNESS BEFORE HIM AND STRIVE FOR A BETTER VERSION OF OURSELVES IN HIM.

*HAPPY SUNDAY!*
FR. GERALD MUOKA

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