October 28,2007 30th Sunday of Year C

Scripture: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 32:12-19
Luke 18:9-14

Is your prayer too formal, or too polite? If so, maybe it is coming only from your mouth and not your heart!

Today's Scriptures tells us that God wants our prayer to come from an undecorated heart, from our true self. To pray from our true self entails that we
acknowledge just how frail, weak and sinful we are. (In the Scriptures "sinful" does not mean making a list of sins, but rather that we do not respond to
God's love or as scripture puts it, we are "missing the target").

In today's Gospel two men go up to the Temple to pray. The first man was outwardly religious. He tells God (in what he thinks is prayer!) that he says long
prayers, keeps all the rules, and give one-tenth of his income to the Temple. He tells God all the "good" things things that he has done. In effect he
compares himself to others, and judges them, and all the "bad" things that they do! What he means is "God! I have earned your blessings".
He judges others. He looks down on them. His prayer is only a surface prayer, not from his heart. He was full of himself.

The second man, whom Jesus praises, acknowledges that he is a frail human, he has weaknesses, that is, in the sense of scripture, that he is sinful. He prays
a simple, short, gem of prayer that we can use:
"O Lord! Be merciful to me a sinner."

We acknowledge our human fraility but also strongly believe that God in His unconditioned love accepts as we are - that is God's mercy that is so generously
available to us.

What is going on in your own heart right now? That is the raw material of prayer. This is the type of prayer God wants - the prayer of one's true,
undecorated self.

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