World Mission Sunday
Sirach 35. 15 – 17, 0 -22. Psalm 34. 2 Timothy 4. 6 – 8, 16 – 18. Luke 18. 9 – 14
Pope Francis, in his 2022 World Mission Sunday Message reminds us that we are all invited to
answer the call to be missionary, sharing that “Mission is carried out together, not
To celebrate this time of the year, Catholic Mission Canada reflecting on the role of being a
missionary. “Being missionary means to give hope to those who have lost hope, and to work
together with the community to continue building a better, more just, world for everyone.”
You get up in the morning, and then see your face in the bathroom mirror. What is that like?
You are without your work clothes, or makeup, or even much awake. Like most of us, that is all
the motivation you need to get yourself ready!
When you are ill and go to the doctor, it would not make much sense to tell the doctor about
another person’s illness. The doctor would not be able to treat you if complained about someone
else’s illness and did not tell your own symptoms. If you were to do that you would go home
again just as sick as when you went to see the doctor. The Pharisee came to God complaining
about others’ sins and did not go home with the peace of God in his heart. On the other hand, the
tax collector came before God in complete humility, admitting who he really was, and went
home at peace with God. The tax collector is really living the first beatitude: “Blessed are the
poor in spirit” (Matt 5:3). He is poor in spirit. He is just like another tax collector, Zacchaeus,
whom we will hear about next Sunday, who humbly meets Jesus in a spirit of repentance and is
also saved (Luke 19:1-10).
The Tax Collector in today’s Gospel presents himself to God exactly as he is, warts and all. He
does cover anything up or pretend he is someone he is not. The Pharisee is different. He presents
a false picture of himself to God, inflating his accomplishments, and exaggerating his virtues.
These two men reveal the difference between good and bad mental health. Knowing who we
truthfully are, is the mark of good mental health. Pretending to be someone we are not is a
prescription for problems, conflicts, and relationships that quickly go south.
Throughout Scripture, we see God coming to those who know their need of God. The first
reading today from Sirach reminds us that God does not have favorites and hears the cry of the
oppressed (35:12-13) and that the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds (35:17). In the second
reading, Paul (or someone expressing Paul’s thought) is also poor in spirit before God. Paul
knows he will soon be martyred so he says he is already being poured out as a libation (2 Tim
4:6). A libation of wine was poured over sacrifices so Paul is indicating he knows his life will
end in the sacrifice of martyrdom. All Paul’s witnesses abandoned him when he had to defend
himself. So, he is left with only the Lord to be with him. He wrote in our second reading:
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might
be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (2
St. Paul too is living the attitude of the tax collector. He has no masks.
The early followers of Jesus knew this well. They knew Our Lord wanted honesty about
ourselves no matter what. They decided to add an exercise of self-reflection at the beginning of
every Mass, which they celebrated every day, called the Penitential Rite.
Every Mass begins with the priest inviting you “call to mind your sins.” That is not a negative
experience, but rather an exercise in healthy and honest self-appraisal.
The priest’s words are formal but, in effect, say, “Before we hear the scriptures and receive the
Eucharist, let us present ourselves to God as we honestly are.” God looks down from heaven and
says in response, “I already know all about you, but now I am glad you know it too! Now we can
continue an honest relationship at this mass.”
The early Church decided that we would acknowledge our true self while standing. We do not
kneel in submission or stand on tip toes to seem taller. We stand …at our own true height before
God …just as we are.
We will never be perfect, but we can always be honest. His unconditional love provides the
courage we need to do just that.
We are surrounded by all kinds of people …at work, at school, at home, and even in our nation.
Some may be honest and some not. However, despite their behavior, every Mass invites us to
hold up a mirror in which we can see our own self as we truly are. That is a very healthy thing to
Undoubtedly prayer is powerful. It is very productive. It is fruitful. It pays you back all that you
wish as jackpots sometimes. But most of the time it is in a reasonable way. Undoubtedly prayer
possesses certain power to bring God’s hands over our lives. As scriptures declare it will not go
unheard an it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds.
It sounds like the power God speaks about his own Word. “So shall my word be that goes from
my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent
it.” (Is 55: 11) So, in comparison, the power of a genuine prayer equals that of God’s Word!
When we pray for justice done to us an uproot injustice oppressing us, God hears the cry of the
oppressed. ‘When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues
them.’ Prayer redeems the lives of God’s servants. As Paul writes in today’s second reading,
prayer helps us to run the life’s race and complete it successfully, to fight the good fight and
finally get the crown of victory. Also, when we are left alone without anyone to defend us, when
everyone deserts us, through prayer the Lord will stands by us and give us enough strength as He
gave to Saint. Paul.
Look at the tax collector in the parable of Jesus today, when he prays be brings up before God his
entire humanity, a humanity that is vulnerable, sinful, weak, limited, needy and unworthy. Both
his words and body language betrays this spirit. Jesus says, 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.” On the contrary the Pharisee points out his own divine uality, his
goodness and his religious performances. Jesus says the tax collector’s prayer was heard by God.
In the first reading God says, ‘the prayer o the lowly pierces the clouds.’
Secondly, our prayer must have a spirit of faithfulness and consistency. Prayer must become a
part of our system, our life’s schedule. Our prayer can be, ‘the cry of the oppressed’, ‘the wail of
the orphan’ and ‘the widow’s pouring out of her complaints’. Paul emphasizes that he had kept
his faith; he had been longing and awaiting his finish line. That is the way our prayer should be.
Never drop off from prayer even a single day. Once in a way we may hit a jackpot in prayer.
Most of the time the Lord takes his own time to answer our prayer. But we should never stop in
praying. We should go praying consistently and persistently and faithfully.
What about us? Surely the Lord is saying to us in the parable that we have nothing to fear in
approaching him just as we are. In fact, it is the correct way to approach God because otherwise
we block God out from our life. We can humbly admit our nothingness before God and our
dependence on God like St. Paul. It is when we realize that we have nothing that we are ready to
receive God’s grace. When you are ill and go to the doctor it would not make much sense to tell
the doctor about another person’s illness. The doctor would not be able to treat you if complained
about someone else’s illness and did not tell your own symptoms. Humble repentance before
God opens us to God’s grace. It is such humble repentance that also gives us the grace to receive
the Lord’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That sacrament is a beautiful way to
meet the Lord and go home peacefully again like the tax collector. It is far better not to be proud
like the Pharisee but rather humble like the tax collector so that we can make frequent use of the
sacrament and go home peacefully again like the tax collector. Sin is glamorized on TV, but sin
is sin and in need of repentance. Glamorizing of sin on TV and other media is closing the door to
God. Instead the Lord is waiting to fill us with his grace, forgiveness, and love, if only we come
before him in humble repentance saying like the tax collector, “O God, be merciful to me a
sinner” (Luke 18:13). For the same reason, we begin every Mass asking God to forgive us, and
again before receiving Holy Communion we say, “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter
under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” The Lord is waiting to fill us
with his grace, forgiveness, and love, if only we come before him in humble repentance saying
like the tax collector, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).