“The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;
it does not rest till it reaches its goal,
nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds.”
Does God show partiality? The first reading from Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18 would indicate the answer to be “no”. We hear in the opening verses of that passage: “The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites. Though not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.” We as people definitely show partiality; we often cater to those who can better serve our own interests while giving less attention to those we deem to be of less importance. It is comforting to know that our God is a God of justice. When we feel slighted, misunderstood or even taken advantage of, God hears our cry, our appeal, and we trust that our petitions are heard by the Most High.
Sometimes we may feel as if our prayers are lost in a vacuum of time and space. How comforting to reflect upon the passage above from Sirach that even the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds like an arrow. Last Sunday’s Gospel reminds us to be persistent in prayer as the widow was who was pending a verdict from the unjust judge. This week’s Gospel from Luke 18:9-14 reminds us to avoid the pitfall of the Pharisee who had an inflated image of himself – constantly comparing himself to others, and specifically to the lowly tax collector. His conversation with God was not really a prayer but a boasting of his own deeds! On the contrary, the tax collector reminds us that our posture of prayer should be filled with humility in imitation of the one who cried out to God to have mercy on himself, a sinner. (Luke 18:12) May we avoid the temptation to compare ourselves to others and instead pray with humility and for perseverance as we hear Paul do so in today’s second reading:
The time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on
the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8