Saturday, October 26, 2019

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Last Sunday's parable of the widow and the unjust judge was a call to diligent prayer. The widow's persistence wore down the judge's resistence. This Sunday, the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18: 9-14) illustrates how we should pray: with humility. Here are some thoughts on this parable by Pope Francis:
The Pharisee and the Publican, unidentified manuscript
It is not enough, therefore, to ask how much we pray, we have to ask ourselves how we pray, or better, in what state our heart is: it is important to examine it so as to evaluate our thoughts, our feelings, and root out arrogance and hypocrisy. But, I ask myself: can one pray with arrogance? No. Can one pray with hypocrisy? No. We must only pray by placing ourselves before God just as we are. Not like the pharisee who prays with arrogance and hypocrisy. We are all taken up by the frenetic pace of daily life, often at the mercy of feelings, dazed and confused. It is necessary to learn how to rediscover the path to our heart, to recover the value of intimacy and silence, because the God who encounters us and speaks to us is there. Only by beginning there can we in our turn encounter others and speak with them. The pharisee walked toward the Temple, sure of himself, but he was unaware of the fact that his heart had lost the way. 
Instead the tax collector — the other man — presents himself in the Temple with a humble and repentant spirit: “standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast” (v. 13). His prayer was very brief, not long like that of the pharisee: “God, be merciful to me a sinner”. Nothing more. A beautiful prayer! ... His prayer is essential. He acts out of humility, certain only that he is a sinner in need of mercy. If the pharisee asked for nothing because he already had everything, the tax collector can only beg for the mercy of God. And this is beautiful: to beg for the mercy of God! Presenting himself with “empty hands”, with a bare heart and acknowledging himself to be a sinner, the tax collector shows us all the condition that is necessary in order to receive the Lord’s forgiveness. In the end, he is the one, so despised, who becomes an icon of the true believer.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Pray always and do not lose heart is the message Jesus gives his disciples today (Luke 18:1-8). He illustrates it with the parable of a widow and an unjust judge. The widow is persistent and the judge finally grants her request: Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.

Here are some thoughts on persistent prayer from Pope Emeritus Benedict, given during a homily on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2012: 
Praying without ceasing means never losing contact with God, letting ourselves be constantly touched by him in the depths of our hearts and, in this way, being penetrated by his light. Only someone who actually knows God can lead others to God. Only someone who leads people to God leads them along the path of life.
The restless heart, … echoing Saint Augustine, is the heart that is ultimately satisfied with nothing less than God, and in this way becomes a loving heart. Our heart is restless for God and remains so, even if every effort is made today, by means of most effective anaesthetizing methods, to deliver people from this unrest. But not only are we restless for God: God’s heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until he finds us. God’s heart is restless, and that is why he set out on the path towards us – to Bethlehem, to Calvary, from Jerusalem to Galilee and on to the very ends of the earth. God is restless for us, he looks out for people willing to “catch” his unrest, his passion for us, people who carry within them the searching of their own hearts and at the same time open themselves to be touched by God’s search for us.... [L]et yourselves be touched by God’s unrest, so that God’s longing for man may be fulfilled.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Jesus speaks these words to the ten lepers in today's gospel (Lk 17:19). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI commented on them at the Twentieth World Day of the Sick, on February 11, 2012:
The encounter of Jesus with the ten lepers, narrated by the Gospel of Saint Luke (cf. Lk 17:11-19), and in particular the words that the Lord addresses to one of them, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you” (v. 19), help us to become aware of the importance of faith for those who, burdened by suffering and illness, draw near to the Lord. In their encounter with him they can truly experience that he who believes is never alone! God, indeed, in his Son, does not abandon us to our anguish and sufferings, but is close to us, helps us to bear them, and wishes to heal us in the depths of our hearts (cf. Mk 2:1-12).
The faith of the lone leper who, on seeing that he was healed, full of amazement and joy, and unlike the others, immediately went back to Jesus to express his gratitude, enables us to perceive that reacquired health is a sign of something more precious than mere physical healing, it is a sign of the salvation that God gives us through Christ; it finds expression in the words of Jesus: your faith has saved you. He who in suffering and illness prays to the Lord is certain that God’s love will never abandon him, and also that the love of the Church, the extension in time of the Lord’s saving work, will never fail. Physical healing, an outward expression of the deepest salvation, thus reveals the importance that man – in his entirety of soul and body – has for the Lord.
Healing of the Ten Lepers, Codex Aureus of Echternach, ca 1030-1050

Saturday, October 5, 2019

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Increase our faith! the Apostles ask Jesus in today's Gospel (Luke 17: 5-10). And the Lord replies, If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Here are the words of Pope Francis in an audience in St. Peter's Square on this Sunday three years ago:
I think that all of us can make this request our own. We, like the Apostles, also say to Jesus: “Increase our faith!”
Mulberry Tree, Vincent Van Gogh (1889)
Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak, fragile, but we offer it to you just as it is, so that you will make it grow. It seems to me that it would be good for all of us to repeat this together: “Lord, increase our faith!” 
The mustard seed is very small, but Jesus says that it is enough to have a faith like this, small, but true, sincere to do things that are humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but with an incredibly strong faith, who truly move mountains!
Think, for example, of certain mammas and papas who face very hard situations; or certain sick people, even gravely sick people, who convey serenity to those who visit them. These people, precisely because of their faith, do not boast about what they do, rather, as Jesus asks in the Gospel, they say: “We are useless servants. We have done what we were supposed to do” (Luke 17:10).