30th Sunday of Ordinary Time (commentary).
The first reading and the Gospel focus on the prayer of the poor or humble.
In the book of Ecclesiasticus it is said that the prayer can pierce the clouds, it reaches God no matter how much above He is. A Jewish commentary develops this: the poor hopes his prayer will not be answered too quickly so that he can stand again and again before God. And God? Well, he does not neither immediately respond because he likes us to pray and fear him, since once their prayer get answered, the poor do not come to speak with him. The Gospel puts across two worlds, that of the people that study and scrutinize the Torah and apply it to the practice, sometimes it can lead to pride or pretension to earn something before God. The publican is more involved in the worldly affairs such as tax collectors. The one who is presented to us is humble, he admits he is a sinner, he deserves nothing, what he expects is the gratuitous mercy of God. Of course there are also the proud publicans who fill their pockets with their profession and the Pharisees.
Again the Jewish tradition is similar (or the reverse) of the Gospel, saying: the righteous ( or those who pretend to be so) do not weigh much in front of the sinners who turn to God. The righteous according to biblical sense are those whose attitude is adjusted to God according to God’s heart. I stress in the psalm “God is close to the brokenhearted”. Again I take from the Judaism a beautiful reflection: the Lord prefers the broken pots than the flawless one. In fact if you put a light in a broken pot, the light reveals itself. The light is not perceived if the pot has no flaw. Our limitations highlight the goodness of God.
Poverty, whether material or spiritual is a conscious experience and shows our dependence on God.
Such is the attitude of Paul in the letter to Timothy. The crown he will receive is not any reward, it is a profound recognition in the One in whom he put his faith. We could say that the crown is the work of God in Paul. God who showed him his loyalty across multiple tests he underwent for his name.
Let us remember finally the festive joy of the Torah that Jews celebrate from Sunday night in the eighth day of Sukkot and thank the Lord for that so rich Word that the Church gives us from day to day, from Sunday to Sunday, feast to feast. The Word is joy and light for all.
Translation: Br. Joel Moreira, NDS.