30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this
discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that
1st Reading - Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
Jesus Ben Sirach, the wise and perceptive scribe of Jerusalem, writes
movingly of the chief loves of his life: the Law and the Temple
liturgy. He also shows a touching devotion to the great figures of
Israel’s past. He gives us a pithy collection of reflections,
mostly on worldly wisdom, good behavior, tact and good sense. But he
insists that Wisdom comes from God, mediated through the Law. He always
has death, the moment of reckoning, before his eyes, though he gives no
clear teaching about the after-life or what the reward for good works
The “Wisdom of Ben Sirach” was originally written in
Hebrew, but, as the forward says, it was translated into Greek by the
author’s grandson in 132 B.C. Jesus Ben Sirach wrote about
190-180 B.C. Sirach is the only book of Holy Scripture which contains a
forward (which is not considered inspired).
12 For he is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. 13 Though not
unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.
The poor and powerless enjoy a special love and concern of the Lord.
14 He is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint;
God hears the cry of the poor, the orphan, the widows Bthese are
privileged characters in the Bible (see Exodus 22:21-23, Deuteronomy
24:17-18; Proverbs 23:10-11.
16 He who serves God willingly is heard;
“Willingly” is the key word – service because of
duty, obligation, or habit is not sufficient – it must be willing
his petition reaches the heavens. 17 The prayer of the lowly pierces
the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, 18 Nor will it
withdraw till the Most High responds,
“It” is the prayer of the lowly, the humble.
judges justly and affirms the right.
2nd Reading - 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Today we wind up our study of 2nd Timothy as we hear Paul’s
closing remarks. Recall that this letter is written as instruction and
encouragement to Timothy, whom Paul installed as Bishop of Ephesus.
Timothy has been having difficulties with false teachers and Paul
provides pastoral guidance while he himself is held prisoner in Rome.
This letter is believed to have been written in A.D. 67 with Paul being
martyred in A.D. 67 or 68. The place of his martyrdom in local Roman
tradition is the site of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Since he was a Roman citizen, the mode of execution according to the
same tradition was decapitation
6 For I am already being poured out like a libation,
A libation is a sacrificial rite in which a liquid (usually wine or oil) was poured out on the altar.
and the time of my departure is at hand.
Paul’s death is near at hand. He is handing on his legacy to Timothy and other future leaders.
7 I have competed well; I have finished the race;
Paul’s letters are full of athletic imagery: races, fights, etc.
These images are used to exhort the reader to keep his attention
focused on the prize which goes to the winner; the victor’s crown
which is awarded by the chief judge.
I have kept the faith.
Paul has preserved and guarded the deposit of faith.
8 From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day,
The parousia, the day of judgment
and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.
All who out of love for Christ have lived a Christian life as a preparation for their appearance at the judgment.
16 At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me.
It is possible that Paul is referring to his Roman house arrest, but
more likely he alludes to a first hearing in his present trial.
“Story has it that the apostle, after defending himself, was
again sent upon the ministry of preaching and coming a second time to
the same city met death by martyrdom under Nero. While he was being
held in prison, he composed the second epistle to Timothy, at the same
time indicating that his first defense had taken place and that
martyrdom was at hand.” [Eusebius Pamphilus of Caesarea (between
A.D. 300-325), History of the Church 2,22]
May it not be held against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave
me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and
all the Gentiles might hear it.
Assuming that the first hearing was at his present trial, Paul was
successful in preaching the Gospel before the judges and all those
present for the occasion.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
A biblical image (Psalm 22:21; Daniel 6:22).
18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
Paul is not referring to release from his present imprisonment, he will be rescued for the heavenly kingdom.
and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel - Luke 18:9-14
As we proceed from our gospel reading last week which presented
Jesus’ first parable on prayer, we now hear the second parable on
prayer. Recall that the question has often been put to Jesus
“When and how will the end come?” Jesus’ answer is
always that we are to persevere in prayer and humility. These two
parables (the one we heard last week and this one) appear only in Luke
and in this one we are reminded that our virtuous works what we are
proud of will not earn us entrance into God’s kingdom.
9 He [Jesus] then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of
their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 “Two
people went up to the temple area to pray;
The hours of prayer were 9 A.M. and 3 P.M.
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisees were completely “just” before the Law, that
is why they had such confidence in themselves. Tax collectors were
always considered to be sinners.
11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity
– greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax
collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole
The Pharisee carefully spells out why he is just, just in case God hadn’t noticed.
13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast
A sign of repentance and mourning
and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ 14 I tell
you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who
exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be
The tax collector is forgiven of his sins because of his humble
repentance. He has recognized his need of God’s mercy and has
shown sorrow for his sins. The Pharisee, however, does not need
God’s justification because he has justified himself (once saved,
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org