In the Gospel for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector praying in the Temple. The Pharisee thanks God he is not like the despicable tax collector. “But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former …” (Luke 18: 13-14a). Jesus exemplifies the tax collector as an authentic Christian disciple. The tax collector recognizes his need for God’s mercy. He is sorry for his sins. God’s mercy has no bounds. God forgives even the worst of sinners who repent. How much more God will forgive us for our jealously of our neighbors, intolerance of people not like us, fear of self-sacrifice, refusal of treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, cheating at home or at work, and others actions or inactions that hurt ourselves and others. For what do you ask God’s mercy?
In the Gospel for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge. With relentless persistence, a helpless widow pleads for a judgement from an unjust judge. “For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me’” (Luke 18: 4-5). Jesus wants his disciples and us, like the widow, to persist in prayer. If the helpless widow could prevail over the unjust judge, just think of the good works Christians can accomplish through prayer. How can God help you accomplish for what you are praying today?
In the Gospel for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus cures the ten lepers. “And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan” (Luke 17: 15-16). One leper acknowledges the power of God who heals him. He returns to thank Jesus . The story contrasts the gratitude of one with the ingratitude of the rest. On the occasion of the birthday of my wife, I thank God for her. I am glad she was born. Through her God has blessed me in wonderful ways, especially with three sons. I imagine myself the tailor in Fiddler on the Roof who sings about his fiancée, “Wonder of wonder, miracles of miracles, God has given you to me”. For what wonders in your life do you have to thank God?
In the Gospel for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus told the parable of the mustard seed. “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you’ ” (Luke 17: 5-6). Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. There they will face opposition that puts Jesus to death. Full of apprehension, the disciples ask Jesus to strengthen their faith. He urges them to trust in God for protection. Like a small mustard seed uprooting a tree, faith in God can accomplish the unexpected. How has God accomplished the unexpected in your life? How has that increased your faith?