Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, Oct. 23, 2016

"Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner." -- Luke 18:13

“Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner.” — Luke 18:13

 

Oct. 23, Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18

      Psalm 34:2-3, 17-19, 23

      2) 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

      Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

 

By Deacon Mike Ellerbrock
Catholic News Service

When I pointed out in a homily that not all saints are officially canonized, a woman said to me after Mass, “That may be true, but the great saints get to wear a crown in heaven, like St. Paul in today’s epistle!” It got me to thinking: Are there trophies for us in heaven, blue ribbons as eternal accessories?

The real underlying issue in today’s Scriptures is: Why is it OK for Paul to boast of his faith, but not for the Pharisee in the Gospel to declare his virtues superior to the tax collector? Actually, the distinction is clear.

Paul boasts of his unwavering trust in the Lord, not of his own earthly merits. Conversely, the Pharisee believes that his diligent efforts obligate God’s praise and eternal reward, especially relative to the despised tax collector.

Like Paul, the humble tax collector gets it. Unable to proudly raise his face to God’s, he simply bows and begs for God’s mercy.

We cannot make deals with God, punching our ticket to paradise. Salvation is attained not by virtuous acts — adherence to the law — but by our acceptance of Jesus’ redemption on the cross, which was perfect and complete. We could never do enough good works to demand eternal residence with God.

Our task is to humbly accept God’s gratuitous love and respond by living a life of gratitude. Hence, we are eucharistic people: The Greek term “eucharisteo” means to give thanks. We must do good works, not to earn salvation, but because it is the only logical response to Jesus’ free and unmerited gift to us.

Note that Paul proclaims the crown is available to all, whereas the arrogant Pharisee bases his self-righteousness relative to other sinners.

The heavenly crown, trophy or ribbons we might receive upon crossing that threshold may be the sacred privilege of seeing firsthand the wounds Christ bore for us. What greater testimony do we need of his love for us?

It has been said that the Bible can be summed up in one word: trust. Salvation history is written by the Author of Life. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, God constantly promises his covenant with humanity and never fails us. Of that we can boast.

QUESTIONS:

Is doing good works out of guilt or fear a help or hindrance to our spiritual growth? How can we improve our consciences to better understand our motivations?

3 Responses

  1. God is real
    We should believe in him always

  2. Reblogged this on News With a Catholic View.

  3. Paul didn’t know the first thing about following Jesus. He didn’t know the Most Important Commandment. No, it’s not “love.”

    Poem – What is love?

    Two men came to Jesus
    With different motivations.
    They asked Him the same question
    Relevant to all the nations:

    Which is the Most Important?
    The answer was the same.
    Jesus did not manipulate
    He was not there to play a game.

    “Love the Lord your God” said Jesus
    as He quoted from The Law –
    to fulfill and not abolish
    was His purpose, full of awe.

    Jesus did not make all Scripture
    Into one new great commandment.
    He summarized The Law and Prophets
    “First and Greatest” and “The Second.”

    The Love of God is higher
    Than the love of any man.
    Receive from God, give back to God-
    Then to others, that’s His plan.

    The Love of God involves much more
    Than simply “love your fellow man.”
    Worship, trust, and pray to God,
    and obey Him – that’s His plan

    To worship and pray to neighbors,
    Whoever they may be,
    Or trust and obey our enemies
    Would be idolatry.

    The love of God is first and greatest,
    And the love of man is second.
    “All we need is love” are words
    of dead Beetles on the pavement.

    “The entire law is summed up in a single command”
    are not the words of Jesus our Salvation.
    It’s false teaching of Paul the Pharisee
    an “accuser of our brethren.”

    “Love” without God is Satan’s word through Paul
    in his chapter to the Corinthians.
    “I will show you the most excellent way”
    is the road to eternal perdition.

    Where is God in Paul’s chapter on love?
    Nowhere in view of the eye.
    Paul sings about himself like a Mexican Mariachi
    “I, I, I, I.”

    Jesus is The Most Excellent Way
    Not the words of a Pharisee.
    The words of Jesus are very clear.
    Jesus said, “You must follow ME.”

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