30th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Sir 35:12-14,16-18  +  2 Tim 4:6-8,16-18  +  Lk 18:9-14
October 23, 2016

“‘…the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’”

Last Sunday Jesus spoke about the need to persevere in prayer.  This week, however, he shows us that perseverance will do no good if we’re not praying with spiritual humility.

Humility is the foundation upon which we pray in four ways.  Each of these four expresses the covenant—or PACT—with Him that we entered through Baptism.  It is easy to remember these forms of prayer if we remember the letters P-A-C-T.  The example of a child before his parent is a good image through which to reflect on these four, although here in a different order.

First is Petition.  During the first few years of his life, a child expresses his relationship with his parent largely by crying for what he needs.  In our relationship with God, this dynamic is present:  we continually make prayers of petition.  However, if a person’s relationship with God is based upon nothing but petition, then the relationship will never mature.

Second is Thanksgiving.  One of the first things a parent teaches a child is to say “thank you.”  Because of our basic self-centeredness, we have to be taught to be thankful:  whether towards a grandparent for a Christmas gift, a friend for giving a party, or a brother or sister for doing one’s chores.  As people mature,  they realize just how much their lives are built upon gifts given them by others, and how differently their lives would be without those gifts.  As Christians, we mature further when we realize that in fact, everything in our lives is based upon God being so generous.

Third is Contrition.  Humility is very necessary when a child knows he has offended a parent by his thoughts or words, in what he has done, or in what he has failed to do.  In the same way, it is difficult for a Christian to admit offenses committed against God the Father, and to ask His forgiveness.  In contrition, we admit that while God’s love for us is unconditional, ours for Him is not.

Fourth is Adoration.  We recognize that in a relationship between child and parent, admiration or human adoration is something that only comes over a long period of time (usually after one has left home and experienced a few of life’s bumps and bruises).  This human adoration is based upon reflecting on the petitions which the parent has fulfilled, and on the parents’ gifts for which thanks have been given, and on the contrition to which the parent has responded with forgiveness.

Yet there is also a deeper form of adoration which is not based upon anything that the parent does for the child, but is simply loving the parent for who that parent is as a person.  God, of course, deserves adoration from everyone in a way that should be given to no creature.  Adoring God in prayer means simply praising Him for who He is:  God, the all-perfect, all-loving, all-merciful One who is divine Goodness.