Reflection: Be the Tax Collector

Reflection for October 23, 2016 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

pharisee and tax collector.jpgIf last week’s readings showed us the importance of prayer, then this week’s readings demonstrate how we should pray: in humility, trusting God. In our society, how often do we see famous personalities exalting some good work they have done? While not everyone is like this of course, we often see celebrities and others praising their own virtues, showing off their good deeds to the world. The same attitude is seen with the Pharisee in today’s Gospel, who shouts aloud his apparent virtues, going so far as to say to the Lord, “I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity!” The Pharisee, like some famous individuals we see in modern times, was saying and doing all the “right things,” but did he have the right intent or disposition? After all, while our external actions carry great weight and consequence, in the end, it is the final disposition of our hearts that God examines.

Should we look to the Pharisee or the Tax Collector as an example of how we should pray? Is the Pharisee an example of the humble attitude we should take before God, when we enter into prayer? No, of course not! Instead, we need to be more like the Tax Collector, who recognized his unworthiness before the Lord, and yet still approached Him, saying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” This attitude of humility is important to remember as we approach the end of the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis: not only must we spread the message of God’s love and mercy to others, but we must embrace it ourselves. Trusting in divine mercy, turning to God and saying, “Let my soul glory in the Lord,” we can find true peace in our lives.

Question for reflection: What are some ways I can cultivate humility in my prayer life and my interactions with others? An example might be to do a good deed, make a sacrifice, or dedicate a Rosary or Mass to someone or some situation without telling anyone about it.


As part of my pastoral internship, I have been given the responsibility for writing our weekly bulletin reflections. Due to the nature of the medium, they are short, but try to take into account the current Sunday’s readings, most especially the Gospel. I will post these reflections here each weekend; your feedback, whatever it may be, is most welcome as I seek to refine my writing skills and ask the Holy Spirit to guide my words! You can read these and other types of reflections based on the readings at Mass by going here. Pax.

Aventuras: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Last Saturday, we saw Mary.

In Mexico City.

In person.

O.K., maybe I should explain myself a bit. We had the distinct privilege of visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and seeing Juan Diego’s tilma in person. For those who are not familiar with the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, take a few moments to read it here.

Trinity TilmaWhile I have often desired and prayed to see this wonderful piece of living history in person, I never knew that I would have a chance to actually come and see Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the tilma displayed in the Basilica, we see an imprint that can not be explained by human scientific reason. Analysis of the tilma has shown time and again that the origins of the image are unexplainable, but for one with the eyes of faith, there is certainly an explanation: the Holy Trinity. The tilma is full of imagery, bringing together Christian and Aztec symbolism. One of my favorite parts of the tilma are, surprise surprise – this is the Believing Astronomer after all, the stars painted on the brilliant field of blue. The arrangement of these stars corresponds to that of the Winter Solstice in 1531, when the Juan Diego unfurled the tilma in front of Bishop bishop Zumarraga.

Throughout the day, we received a behind-the-scenes view of the Basilica, as well as presentation and tour from one of the Basilica’s canons, Msgr. Jorge Palencia. Msgr. Palencia gave us a personal tour of the main sites on the Basilica’s grounds, including the site of the first church, Tepayac Hill, where Juan Diego saw the apparitions, the parish church that stands next to the Old Basilica, and the museum in the Old Basilica itself. Having Mgsr. Palencia with us was a great joy, as he gave us insights that only someone intimately connected with the site could give.

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The Tilma depicting the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (difficult to get a good picture from the viewing area)

The highlight of the day, however, was Mass. Shortly after arriving and seeing the tilma for the first time, we were escorted up to the sacristy where we vested for Mass. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I (and I suspect quite a few others of us) received a bit of shock when we processed out to the main altar. The Basilica was full, probably around four to five thousand people, and there we were, some wayward seminarians from the United States, sitting up in the sanctuary, just feet from the tilma itself and having the honor to serve at Mass with at least 20 priests and (from what I could tell) one or two bishops. Here was one of the most well-known images of Christ’s mother, and then He became present on the altar during Mass. An awesome moment, in every sense of the word…

In Our Lady of Guadalupe we find a point of unification for all people of the American, no matter what their culture or skin color. My own relationship with her did not blossom until many years after my baptism, but it wasn’t until I gave myself completely to her Son, through her help and intercession, that everything in my life finally come into focus.

No tengo palabras para describir lo que sentí en mi corazón el sábado pasado, pero sé que la experiencia hablará mi alma. Oremos por la intercesión de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, guiándonos siempre a su Hijo, Jesucristo. I do not have the words to describe what was on my heart last Saturday, but I know that the experience continues to speak to my soul. Let us pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, always guiding us to her son, Jesus Christ.

Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke and continues to speak to my heart, and she continues to do so to all peoples, ultimately drawing everyone, if they are willing, toward Jesus Christ. In Christ that we find the ultimate meaning of our lives: to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life and to be with Him in the next.

While at the Basilica, we prayed for you all, and I prayed especially for those intentions that were sent to me. Thank you very much, and please continue to keep us in your prayers!

Pax.

Some Pictures from the day (use the navigation arrows below to advance of move back):

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