A life of trust, gratitude Print E-mail
Written by Deacon Mike Ellerbrock   
Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016

Thirtieth Sunday
in Ordinary Time

Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
Psalm 34:2-3, 17-19, 23  
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Luke 18:9-14

When I pointed out in a homily that not all saints are officially canonized, a woman said to me after Mass, “That may be true, but the great saints get to wear a crown in heaven, like St. Paul in today’s epistle!” It got me to thinking: Are there trophies for us in heaven, blue ribbons as eternal accessories?

The real underlying issue in today’s Scriptures is: Why is it OK for Paul to boast of his faith, but not for the Pharisee in the Gospel to declare his virtues superior to the tax collector? Actually, the distinction is clear.

Paul boasts of his unwavering trust in the Lord, not of his own earthly merits. Conversely, the Pharisee believes that his diligent efforts obligate God’s praise and eternal reward, especially relative to the despised tax collector.

Like Paul, the humble tax collector gets it. Unable to proudly raise his face to God’s, he simply bows and begs for God’s mercy.

We cannot make deals with God, punching our ticket to paradise. Salvation is attained not by virtuous acts — adherence to the law — but by our acceptance of Jesus’ redemption on the cross, which was perfect and complete. We could never do enough good works to demand eternal residence with God.

Our task is to humbly accept God’s gratuitous love and respond by living a life of gratitude. Hence, we are eucharistic people: The Greek term “eucharisteo” means to give thanks. We must do good works, not to earn salvation, but because it is the only logical response to Jesus’ free and unmerited gift to us.

Note that Paul proclaims the crown is available to all, whereas the arrogant Pharisee bases his self-righteousness relative to other sinners.

The heavenly crown, trophy, or ribbons we might receive upon crossing that threshold may be the sacred privilege of seeing firsthand the wounds Christ bore for us. What greater testimony do we need of his love for us?

It has been said that the Bible can be summed up in one word: trust. Salvation history is written by the Author of Life. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, God constantly promises his covenant with humanity and never fails us. Of that we can boast.

This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

Daily Scripture Readings Print E-mail
Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013 -- 10:21 AM
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Scripture readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
Pope's Prayer Intentions: October 2016 Print E-mail
October Universal Intention

Journalists: That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.

October Evangelization Intention

World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.

Holy Days of Obligation Print E-mail

The following are Holy Days of Obligation for 2016.

Holy Days of Obligation Description
Friday, Jan. 1
Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
Thursday, May 5
Ascension Thursday
Monday, Aug. 15
Solemnity of the Assumption (abrogated because it falls on Saturday)
Tuesday, Nov. 1
All Saints Day
Thursday, Dec. 8
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Sunday, Dec. 25
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Prayer to St. Raphael Print E-mail

photo of Pilgrim Icon of St. Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

We beg you, assist us in all our needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" we humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of our souls and the ills that afflict our bodies.

We especially ask your guidance of our diocese as we journey toward the rebuilding of a cathedral bearing your name, and the great grace of purity to prepare us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. As our intercessor, beg the Blessed Trinity to prosper the work of our hands and, above all, to bring us, face-to-face, into their Holy presence.


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