Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Psalm 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23, (R/. 7a); 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Luke 18:9-14
“The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds,” Sirach teaches. Indeed, it touches God’s heart. The prayer of the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable certainly does not fall into this category. It is not necessarily a bad prayer, as the Pharisee stands before God, expressing gratitude for God’s many blessings. But notice the frequency of “I… I… I… I,” in contrast to the simple prayer of the tax collector, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus concludes by saying, “The latter went home justified.” To be justified is to be in right relationship with God. Recognizing our need for God’s mercy and asking for it puts us in right relationship with God.
Luke offers many prayers in his Gospel: the Canticle of Mary (the Magnificat), “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…” (1:46-55); the Canticle of Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist (the Benedictus), “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel…” (1:68-79); the Canticle of Simeon in the Temple when he takes in his arms the Christ Child (the Nunc dimittis), “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace…” (2:29-32), and the Our Father. Each recognizes God’s mercy, God’s loving-kindness. Each calls us to bow our heads humbly before God.
How have you known God’s loving-kindness this week?