Do you remember last week’s references to the need for our cause to be just, right and true – and that, as a result, the Lord will be on our side, with us in our endeavours? Remember the persevering widow of the Gospel extract? Well take a good look at THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [SIRACH 35: 12c – 14. 16 – 18b].

He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds.”

In addition there is a reference to the just judge who executes judgement. The Christian God is most unlike the judge of last Sunday’s Gospel reading because he is impartial. {recall the week before last and the emphasis that we cannot ‘buy’ God’s favour?) Then, we have the wonderful confirmation of last Sunday’s widow when we hear that he will not ignore … the widow when she pours out her story.”

God-in-Christ has only one partiality – THE TRUTH … the truth in each and every department of our lives and living.

Yes, indeed, we can very often feel isolated, unheard and deserted but the truth always emerges and is the final winner. In this context bear in mind the last stanza of our extract from TODAY’S PSALM [34 or 33]. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save. The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants. All who trust in him shall not be condemned.”

Very often we only recognise the truth of a situation(all of it, including our part in it) when we are broken. Yet even in our brokenness we need to arrive at the point when we not only recognise the truth but want to own it – make it a living part of our living. This fact is linked to the phrase from our Old Testament reading which makes reference to the prayer of the humble.” Always remember that the humble person is the HONEST person … the one who sees / recognises the truth about a particular situation as well as one’s own responsibility in it. In addition, there must be a recognition of one’s own realistic ability to cooperate in the remedy. We need to be truthful, humble, in the total situation. This will always include an acknowledgement of our limitations.

In passing it is worthwhile to note words from OUR NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [2 TIMOTHY 4: 6 – 8. 16 – 18]. There we read that Paul saw himself as rescued from the lion’s mouth … the Lord will rescue me from every evil.” If we read carefully it will be seen that Paul was about to face martyrdom but he remained humble ….. he was truthful in the face of his achievements: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” However, do not overlook the fact that this is proclaimed without any sort of resentment, bitterness, or attempt to lay blame on others: at my first defence no one took my part; all deserted me. …. but the Lord stood by me.”

Do I believe that the Lord stands by me in every situation? Before answering the question I must ensure that I place (stand by) myself in truth, honesty and responsibility – without apportioning blame to others! We should avoid finding a scapegoat for our own inadequacies. This tendency is nothing more than an escape mechanism and signifies a lack of honesty (humility).

Take a look at THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL READING [LUKE 18: 9 – 14]. The parable is directed to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” Immediately we should return to the closing line of the extract from our Psalm, which proclaims: all those who trust in him shall not be condemned.” The first example in the Gospel is the man who trusted himself, and the second is the one who trusted in God. The first was dishonest (proud) and the second honest (humble). We come face-to-face with TRUTH!

THE TRUTH JUSTIFIES!

It is vital to see that the Pharisee prayed with himself” when he should have been praying with the Lord! When I become the centre and focus of my prayer, I begin to see myself as better than others. The focus of my prayer must always be God-in-Christ. Only then am I able to see myself honestly AND TO RECOGNISE MY NEED OF THE LORD! One wonders why the Pharisee bothered to pray … and do not forget that the only thing he thanked God for was himself! ‘See how wonderful I am’ was what he was saying! I may not be the absolute worst of sinners but I remain in need of the Lord’s constant help – because I am frail and limited.

This Sunday’s COMMUNION ANTIPHON says it all: We will ring out our joy at your saving help, and exult in the name of our God.”