Reflection: 27th October 2019

A Reflection for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LK: 18: 9-14  ( )  
We have all learnt to pray in some form or other, realising the importance of prayer in our lives. Personally, I learnt to pray in my family, then in the local primary school and, later, when I was in the major seminary. 
In their own way all were very helpful. But I believe the most effective of the ways in which I learnt to pray was in Africa through families and the Small Christian Communities which had a striking way of interpreting God's word leading to prayer. The people among whom I worked had a very natural way of praying. They were very sure that they needed to pray.
Following the theme of the past two Sundays, today's theme is also about prayer. Two gentlemen went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax-collector, two very different kinds of people with totally different mind-sets. The Pharisee was a proud person and the tax-collector humble. The Pharisee came to tell God how good he was, and listed a number of things that he did, like fasting many times a week, praying, paying his tithes etc. All sounded very formal but a rigid part of his religious practice.
The tax-collector on the other hand stood a long way off and kept his eyes on the ground in humiliation; as the gospel says: 'not daring to raise his eyes to heaven'. He was the total opposite of the Pharisee. He was humble and simple. He felt he had a long way to go to get near God. But he felt a huge need for God in his life. No doubt at this stage God became a very important part of his life. And the gospel tells us that he came away justified unlike the proud Pharisee.
Brevity and simplicity are very important elements in our encounter with God. We remember that we are a child in our Father's arms. Once a child fees safe, it feels secure in God's hands. 
Prayer is basically a love affair with the God who loves us dearly. So, it’s not about saying long prayers. A friendly dialogue is what prayer is about.
Nowadays people might tell you that “I don't go to church much but I do PRAY”. That's very important for it keeps our lives spiritually greased and oiled and in constant touch with our God.

Martin Keane C.S.Sp.  – Ordained in 1970, Fr. Martin was first appointed to Kenya the following year and spent many years in the east African country including as leader of the Spiritan community there.  Provincial Leader in Ireland from 1994 to 2000, he is now leader of the community attached to Rockwell College.