Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
Psalms 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Hi, my name is Jennifer Henry, I am the Intern Administrator of Religious Formation at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in North Huntingdon and this is for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Being a young person in the church, I constantly fall guilty to comparing myself to others. Just the other day, I was at Franciscan University of Steubenville for a Graduate School Visit. During daily mass, I sat in the congregation, looking around me thinking two thoughts: the first being “that girl veils? Wow she must be so holy. If only I was that holy,” and the second being “can that person really not fold their hands during mass? Come on.” Comparing oneself is a normal human quality, and thanks to the story of Creation, we know that we are finite compared to God’s infinite. We know we fall guilty to sin in a world full of comparison, whether it be on social media or just in our day-to-day lives. The beauty of the virtue of humility is that it is assisted with God’s grace to bring us into the fullness of Christ. When you look at the saints and how we can better exemplify them, they all admit their sinfulness, yet continuously strive to become worthy of God’s eternal love. So how do we accept God’s love if we are sinners?
Jesus tells us the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Every one of us is guilty of being both these people. We have the Pharisee side; where maybe our prayer life is consistent, we go to mass every Sunday, we give back to the parish, and we go to regular confession. But at the end of the day, we fall short of the virtue of charity. We are so full of our own “pious” life that we forget to look at those who are struggling. In the end, self-justification is not a form of prayer, it is a form of self-validation.
And we have all been the tax collector; rooted so deep in sin we do not know where to turn but to the Father asking for forgiveness. We feel as though our relationship with God has plateaued, that there is nothing we can do to make God loves us. But, it is quite the opposite. There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less than he already infinitely does. The invitation for God’s mercy is always open, it is up to you to accept it.
The thing with the tax collector is, he did absolutely nothing to receive the love and mercy of God.
No amount of good deeds, church attendance, reception of the sacraments, loving our neighbor or anything else we do is sufficient to take away sin. Jesus’s death on the cross makes us worthy to receive the love and mercy of God.
Are there going to be times where you are the Pharisee in the situation?
Yes, of course.
Are there going to be times where you are the tax collector in this situation?
Yes, of course!
The Glory of God is ever-present, ever-lasting, ever-loving, and bountiful for you.
No matter where you are in your life. Be not afraid, run towards Him, no matter where you are in your life.
The Joy of Christ Our Savior,
Jennifer Henry, Admin Religious Formation Intern, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, North Huntingdon