30th Sunday, Year C
•• Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18 •• Psalm 34 •• 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 •• Luke 18:9-14 ••
[__01a__] This is a famous parable about prayer. In the Catholic Catechism, we read that there are 3 principal - 3 main – parables about prayer. All 3 are from the Gospel of Luke and we have heard all 3 in the last few months.
1st is the parable of the importunate friend, the friend arriving at midnight to ask for bread so that he may provide food for unexpected guest.
2nd is the parable of last Sunday about the widow beseeching the judge to hear her case favorably.
3rd is the parable we have just read about the Pharisee and the tax collector (also known as the “Pharisee and the publican”)
[__01b__] Where do I sign? Where do I sign, place my signature, my name?
This is a question you and I would ask after we have made a commitment, or a decision.
Also this is the question you and I would ask if we were to make a petition.
For example, to run for the U.S. Presidency, a person needs to gather signatures on a petition. With a sufficient number of signatures, a person would be on the ballot.
In California, to be on the presidential ballot, you need 160,000 signatures. In Minnesota, only 2,000. And, so once, you have signatures and are on the presidential ballot in all 50 states, you are a candidate. The signature is important.
Where do I sign?
[__02__] This is the question we are asked by someone from whom we receive approval, permission, favor.
Where do I sign?
[__03__] Need a lease on a car? Where do we sign?
Need to be excused from class or from a midterm due to travel? Where does the professor sign?
[__04__] We sign our names – personally – asking for things that we need.
[__05__] In the Gospel this Sunday, we read a parable about the 2 persons (2 men) who went up to the Temple to pray.
First is the Pharisee. Second is the tax collector.
[__06__] The Pharisee does not want to sign anything, believing all his documents and
paperwork are in perfect order.
The Pharisee does not make any petitions before God.
The Pharisee does not ask for anything, but just tells God how great his transcript and application are. Even his signature is flawless.
[__07__] Second, at the Temple is the tax collector (publican). The tax collector, in all humility, has his pen and ink ready with prayer petitions.
“Where do I sign?” He wants to know.
[__08__] Tax collectors are known to us, through the Bible as notoriously selfish individuals. The Jewish people regarded the tax collectors with contempt, with disdain.
According to the Jewish community, their “tax collectors” (many of whom were Jewish) had signed away the inheritance. They had signed away the promised land to the Roman Empire.
Tax collectors were Jewish themselves and were working for the Roman Empire. They were cheating their own family.
One would have to wonder if the signature of a tax collector is worth much.
The Pharisee would question the value of the tax collector’s autograph … not because the tax collector is not famous…but because the tax collector is infamous in his cheating.
[__09__] What is my signature – my word – my promise worth?
Isn’t this the same question for all of us in turning our hearts back to God … or in making a repentance or reparation.
That is, yes, we have been dishonest or selfish in some way or at some time.
[__10__] The tax collector goes before God seeking forgiveness and brings a petition, a petition to be signed.
We might say that the tax collector gives us an example to follow in Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
This sacrament in its repentance and forgiveness – is also a petition.
[__11__] In the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, we are also making a request and petition – but it is different from some petitions with which we are familiar.
For example, if we were to run for U.S. President, we would need a petition with signatures – state by state, Michigan and Minnesota, Colorado and California.
We would need a campaign, publicity…
Also if I want to obtain more financial aid, then I write the petition, I write up the details, the plan.
We would need a strategy, a calculation.
[__12__] In the confession of our sins, we do not come before God with a campaign slogan or a strategy complete.
Rather, in our petition, we are asking the Lord to fill in some of these details.
This is true also in the sacrament of penance.
In the confession of our sins, we make this petition, asking the Lord to give us greater awareness of God’s justice, fairness.
[__13__] Receiving forgiveness, absolution and peace, we are trying to grow by becoming aware of our desire to follow God’s ways – even if we do not always succeed.
In the confession of our sins, we are aware of the difference between God’s ways and our ways. For example, we realize that we might have found to be “justified” …might really be unjust.
Or what we promised – signing our name to – we realize that maybe we did not keep our end of the agreement / relationship.
And, in these cases – asking for forgiveness, we are asking, with an open heart … where do we sign?