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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Humble prayer pierces the clouds

The first reading for the Sunday liturgy today tells us that "the Lord hears the cry of the oppressed." It also tells us that "the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest until it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right, and the Lord will not delay."

The response for the Psalm is "The Lord hears the cry of the poor."

The Gospel (Luke 18:9-14) is one of my favorite parables about prayer. Jesus addressed it to those "who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else." Jesus tells us that two people went to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee gave thanks that he was not like the rest of humanity and he boasts in his prayer about the good he does. The tax collector just kept repeating, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner."
Jesus tells us that "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." It is the tax collector's humble prayer that pierces the clouds.

One of my Jesuit cousins once told me that his prayer was just to repeat, "O GOd, be merciful to me a sinner." I had just made my First Vows and it took years for me to realize what a wonderful prayer that is!

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