This week's Gospel

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else, 'Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, "I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get." The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.' (Luke 18: 9-14)

The following is from a homily by Fr Richard Leonard SJ, who is the author of Preaching to the Converted, Paulist Press, New York, 2006. We are grateful for his permission to reprint here.

One of the pitfalls of personal success is the arrogance that sometimes comes with it. The Pharisee was, no doubt, a very good-living, devout man, but he made himself feel important by putting others down. He even did this in his prayer, reminding God of just how good he was in comparison to others. It's a wonder he went to the Temple at all because he does not seem to need God. Like the multi-millionaire, he trusts too much in his own righteousness.

On the other hand, it is a wonder that the tax collector turned up at the Temple too, but for very different reasons. Tax collectors were despised in Palestine. They were Jewish functionaries used by the Roman occupying army to extort the ferocious Imperial taxes from the local community. No wonder he stays close to the back door of the Temple. He might have to beat a hasty retreat. But here he is in prayer recognising the brokenness of his life and his need for God. This tax collector becomes the model of right behaviour for Luke's community.

There is nothing wrong with being devout and successful. Conversely, there are plenty of dangers in doing a job that demands constant moral compromises, like being a tax collector for the Romans. What Jesus notices is what the life situations of both these men do to them. Hence the social outcast's humility shows up the haughty Pharisee.

For far too long we have thought humility meant putting ourselves down, pretending we were nobodies, worthy of nothing. This is not Christian humility. Being humble does not mean we hide or minimise our God-given gifts, talents or resources. It means we honour others by sharing them, enabling them to benefit from the goodness of God. Humility comes from the Latin word, humus, meaning 'close to the earth'. The tax collector lived close to the earth and so he was open to conversion, to being lifted up by God. The Pharisee was so successful at being religious he was closed to it. He had altitude sickness from taking the high moral ground.

Most of us find ourselves in between these extremes, (and today we are called) to open ourselves to being converted again to put all our gifts and talents at the service of Christ's Kingdom.

Clip art:©Creative Ministry Resources


Community Mass

Join the John XXIII College students, staff, parents and friends as we gather to celebrate our community's gospel story, to break bread together, to pray for the needs of one another and the world and then to 'go and proclaim the gospel by our lives'. Next week is a special feast: All Saints Day, when we celebrate all those whose holy lives are an inspiration for us, in our time and place.

When: Fridays in term time.

Time: 8:00 start, 8:30 finish.

Venue: College Chapel.

Parish Life

Do you have a child currently in Years 2, 3 or 5?

Next year your child will complete the classroom component of the sacramental programs for Reconciliation (Year3) , Communion (Year 4) or Confirmation (Year 6) at the College. In addition, parents (as first educators in the Faith) enrol their children in the sacramental program in their home parish. The children then celebrate their First Reconciliation, First Communion or Confirmation within the parish community.

What should I do?

- Parishes start publishing their sacramental programs in term 4, so look for details in your local parish.

- Details of sacramental program from our local parishes are on the College website - and are updated as new information becomes available: http://www.johnxxiii.edu.au/view/parent-resources/parish

- Alternatively, go to your parish webpage via the PerthCatholic website: http://www.perthcatholic.org.au/parishes-priests/index.cfm?loadref=16

Any further queries please contact Mary-Anne Lumley: lumley.mary-anne@johnxxiii.edu.au