Beginning with a few moments of quiet.
The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you.
Find a comfortable space and when ready, take three deep breaths. As you breathe in feel your lungs filling all the way up, when they are full slowly release your breath and feel your lungs emptying out fully. Repeat this three times.
Now return to breathing normally and take a few moments to reflect on:
- Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
- Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?
If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.
and when you are ready read the Gospel
… a familiar story, and when we encounter a familiar story we can be inclined to hear the version we know rather than actually hearing the story. Try to listen to it as if for the first time, hearing something new in it…
….. the Gospel Luke 18:9-14
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.’
Reflect on the Gospel
This is not an especially difficult Gospel to interpret. The imagery is very straight forward. Sean Goan offers the following commentary on it:
Two very different people are described in this story: the Pharisee and the tax collector. The former is doubtlessly a person of virtue and he is probably telling the truth about all the good he does. Likewise the tax collector was no doubt a sinner asSEAN GOAN – Let the Reader Understand, Year C
it was common practice for them to make money by means of extortion. So what are we to learn from them? The first man is so full of himself that there is no room for God. The other man humbly acknowledges his deep need and goes home
changed. For our prayer to be real, we need to come before God with empty hands.
Sit quietly now for a few moments and allow the images created by hearing the Gospel to emerge.
Use some quietening music again if you wish.
Ask yourself, how is this Gospel speaking to my situation in my life in this moment.
And the following is a reflection offered by José A Pagola.
The Pharisee is a scrupulous observer of the Law, a faithful follower of his religion. He is comfortable in the temple. He stands with his head erect, confident of how good and great he is. Rather than pray, this man indulges in self-glorification.JOSÉ A PAGOLA – Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus, Year C
He doesn’t know what it means to pray. He is not aware of the mysterious presence of God, and neither does he recognise how small he himself is. It is stupid to come into the presence of God in order to enumerate our own good works and to despise others. This is the prayer of an atheist that is concealed beneath a cloak of piety. This man does not need God, does not ask him anything, nor does he need anyone.
The publican’s prayer is very different. He is aware that he has nothing to boast about, nothing to offer God, but much to receive from him: God’s forgiveness and mercy. His prayer is honest and sincere. He is a sinner but he is on the path to truth He immediately finds the right attitude towards God – the attitude of one who has nothing but needs everything.
The Pharisee remains caught up in legalistic religion: for him, it is important to be righteous in God’s eyes and to be more observant than anyone else. The tax collector on the other hand, opens himself to the God of love that Jesus preaches. He has learned to accept the forgiveness and love of God in his life without boasting of anything or condemning anyone.
Does this support your reflection on the Gospel passage or not? If so in what way and if not why not? Sit with that and ask what is this Gospel calling you to be or to change this week?
A humorous take on the Gospel story, revealing the potential trap.
Close the time of Prayer with the Our Father
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on our Gospel for this weekend in written or on video.
The following prayer is from the Center for Action and Contemplation community. I invite you to read it yourself below or to join with Richard Rohr in praying it (see also http://www.cac.org)
Loving God, you fill all things with a fullness and hope that we can never comprehend. Thank you for leading us into a time where more of reality is being unveiled for us all to see. We pray that you will take away our natural temptation for cynicism, denial, fear and despair. Help us have the courage to awaken to greater truth, greater humility, and greater care for one another. May we place our hope in what matters and what lasts, trusting in your eternal presence and love. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our suffering world. Please add your own intentions . . . Knowing, good God, you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God. Amen.