Come to the Truth

(October 27, 2019)

Bottom line: God does not want scrupulosity. He wants humble acceptance of his mercy. God wants us to come to the truth.

A few weeks ago we asked Jesus, "Increase our faith". The gift of faith enables us to enter a relationship with God. Faith makes prayer possible. And as we shall see, prayer itself is the reward of faith.

Prayer begins with gratitude. Like the ten lepers Jesus cures, you and I have received unexpected blessings. We typically take them for granted, but when we return to give thanks, Jesus says, "Your faith has saved you". Gratitude increases faith.

For prayer it's enough to rest with gratitude. The greatest prayer, the Mass, is basically thanksgiving. That's what Eucharist means. Still, along with gratitude, we have needs and those we love are suffering. Like the aggrieved widow last Sunday we place those needs before God with persistence. We thank, then ask.

Today we see a third step of prayer - repent. You and I have received so much yet we turn from God. We set up some false god thinking it will bring peace: a shopping trip to the mall or on Amazon, the lure of drugs or porn, explosions of anger or simply clamming up. To repent, to turn back to God, we can use the tax collector's prayer: "O, God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

This is sometimes called the Jesus Prayer. Eastern monks will say it continuously to the rhythm of their breathing. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God/ have mercy on me, a sinner." Bishop Robert Barron tells how he will often use the Jesus prayer after he has completed the breviary or the rosary.

If a person asks mercy of God, he no longer needs to fear any human being. God, after all, knows us through and through, all our failings, miseries and offenses.

The tax collector who begged mercy went home justified. He had humbled himself and now he can stand before God - and before any man.

The pharisee, on the other hand, considers himself a good person - a very good person! He justifies himself. Consequently God cannot justify him. God is Truth. He cannot take part in a lie.

The tax collector sees the truth. We follow his example when we say, "I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do..." Does this seem exaggerated? Well, God does not want scrupulosity. He wants humble acceptance of his mercy. God wants us to come to the truth.

In your prayer begin by thanking God and asking for what you need. Then repent and praise God. Remember the acronym: TARP - thank, ask, repent, praise.

At the beginning of the homily I said that faith makes prayer possible - and that prayer itself is the reward of faith. When you think about it, every relationship requires some act of faith: friendship, marriage, family, parish. If I say, "I'm going to stick with a relationship as long as everything goes the way I want", I will soon have no relationships.

Next Sunday we will see a man completely alienated from his people and from God. Like today's pharisee, he spends his time looking down on others. To get out of alienation we need faith - and faith begins with humility. "O God, have mercy on me a sinner." Humility opens up our lives. Come to the truth. Come to Jesus. He tells us, "whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."


Homily Boots Laced #6: The Good Fight - Our Lord of Miracles (Audio homily for 30th Sunday, Year C 2016)

How to Pray, Part Three (Audio homily for 30th Sunday, Year C 2013)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Homilies for Thirtieth Sunday, Year C):

2016: Boots Laced Week 6: The Good Fight
2013: How to Pray, Part Three: Mass as the Publican's Prayer
2010: Posture at Mass
2007: The Cry of the Poor
2004: Be Merciful to Me, a Sinner
2001: A Lesson in Humility

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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