Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Prayer of the Lowly---30th Sunday In Ordinary Time/22nd Sunday After Pentecost

October 28, 2007 Year C

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time/22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Reflections on the Readings

By Dennis Hankins

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Psalm 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Theme:  The Prayer of the Lowly

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Prayer is again the emphasis of today's readings.  Like last week, we are reminded that poverty of spirit is the characteristic of true prayer.  While lack of prayer creates poverty of a different sort, presumptuous prayer is equally impoverished.  Prayer that congratulates self returns to the maker of the prayer much like mail that is returned as undeliverable.  

But prayer that 'pierces the clouds' comes from the heart that says, "Let my soul glory in the Lord."  It is to those of broken heart to whom the Lord is close.  And it is those who are crushed in spirit who receive the salvation of the Lord.  Anybody who thinks himself a nobody is somebody in the eyes of the Lord.  It is the sick that need a physician and Jesus is the Great Physician.  So pray and be healed of your alienation from God.  

We must always be mindful that we did not choose the Lord, but rather he chose us.  He has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  We cannot boast of anything as of ourselves, for what do we possess that we did not receive? 

The love of heaven like a libation was poured out and received into Mary's womb.  In the Magnificat, Mary reminds us, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden…" (emphasis added)  Neither in Mary nor in today's tax collector is there found a spirit of presumption.  Nor is guile found in their mouth.  

I am reminded of the young preacher who went up into the pulpit full of expectation of personal success.  However, having failed miserably in the delivery of his sermon he came down from the pulpit feeling dejected and humbled.  A wise and older Pastor advised him later that if he had gone into the pulpit the way he came down, he might have come down like he went up.    

Much the same can be said about the attitude of our hearts when we pray.  Jesus says, "Every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."  When we enter into our prayer closet we are advised to shut the door.  To come into prayer is to come into a deeper awareness of Him who judges the thoughts and intentions of our heart, neither is anything hidden from His eyes.  

Let us be quick to open our heart to his heart.  As deep calls unto deep, the words we will find rising from deep within us will be,  "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you or that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Let us prayer:  Dear Jesus, help me learn to linger in your presence.  And when I leave the closet of my prayer, let my heart be like your heart, and your presence the presence I   bring to my loved ones and my neighbors.




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