30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
October 23, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





Almighty ever-living God,
increase our faith, hope and charity,
and make us love what you command,
so that we may merit what you promise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Sir 35:12-14, 16-18

The LORD is a God of justice,
   who knows no favorites.
Though not unduly partial toward the weak,
   yet he hears the cry of the oppressed.
The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan,
   nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.
The one who serves God willingly is heard;
   his petition reaches the heavens.
The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;
   it does not rest till it reaches its goal,
nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds,
   judges justly and affirms the right,
and the Lord will not delay.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23 

R.  The Lord hears the cry of the poor.


Second Reading 2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18

I am already being poured out like a libation,
   and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
   I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
   which the Lord, the just judge,
   will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
   but to all who have longed for his appearance.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
   but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
   so that through me the proclamation might be completed
   and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
   and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Acclamation before the Gospel 2 Cor 5:19

Gospel Lk 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable
   to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
   and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
   one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
   ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—
   greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
   and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
   but beat his breast and prayed,
   ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
   for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
   and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Reflection Questions:

What difficulties do you encounter in prayer?

How have you kept the faith?

Are you ever tempted to justify yourself?

Catena Nova

The stern Pharisee, who in his overweening pride, not only boasted of himself but also discredited the tax collector, in the Presence of God, made his justice void by being guilty of pride. Instead of the Pharisee, the tax collector went down justified because he had given glory to God, the Holy One. He did not dare lift his eyes but sought only to plead for mercy. He accused himself by his posture, by striking his breast and by entertaining no other motive, except propitiation. Be on your guard, therefore and bear in mind, this example of severe loss, sustained through arrogance.The one guilty of insolent behaviour suffered the loss of his justice and forfeited his reward, by his bold self-reliance. He was judged inferior to a humble man and a sinner because, in his self-exaltation, he did not await the judgement of God but pronounced it himself. Never place yourself above anyone, not even great sinners. Humility often saves a sinner, who has committed many terrible transgressions! (St. Basil the Great)

Why does humility raise us to the heights of holiness? The present parable is sufficient proof; for the tax collector, in spite of his profession and of having lived in the depths of sin, joins the ranks of those living upright lives through a single prayer, and that a short one; he is relieved of his burden of sin, he is lifted up, he rises above all evil, and is admitted to the company of the righteous, justified by the impartial Judge himself. The Pharisee, on the other hand, is condemned by his prayer in spite of being a Pharisee, and in his own eyes a person of importance. Because his “righteousness” is false and his insolence extreme, every syllable he utters provokes God’s anger. But why does humility raise us to the heights of holiness, and self-conceit plunge us into the abyss of sin? It is because when we have a high regard for ourselves, and that in the presence of God, he quite reasonably abandons us, since we think we have no need of his assistance.

But when we regard ourselves as nothing and therefore look to heaven for mercy, it is not unreasonable that we should obtain God’s compassion, help, and grace. For as Scripture says: “The Lord resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” …. Humility is the chariot in which the ascent to God is made upon the clouds that are to carry up to him those destined to be with God for endless ages…. For humility is like a cloud. Produced by repentance, it draws streams of tears from the eyes, makes unworthy people worthy, and raises up and presents to God those freely justified by reason of their right dispositions. (St. Gregory Palamas)

Boastful am I, and hard of heart, all in vain and for nothing. Condemn me not with the Pharisee, but rather grant unto me the humility of the Publican, O only merciful and just Judge, and number me with him. (St. Andrew of Crete)

Asceticism is utterly useless if it turns us into freaks. The cornerstone of all asceticism is humility, and Christian humility is first of all a matter of supernatural common sense. It teaches us to take ourselves as we are, instead of pretending (as pride would have us imagine) that we are something better than we are. If we really know ourselves we quietly take our proper place in the order designed by God. And so supernatural humility adds much to our human dignity by integrating us in the society of other men and placing us in our right relation to them and to God. Pride makes us artificial, and humility makes us real.… It is supreme humility to see that ordinary life, embraced with perfect faith, can be more saintly and more supernatural than a spectacular ascetical career. Such humility dares to be ordinary, and that is something beyond the reach of spiritual pride. Pride always longs to be unusual. Humility not so. Humility finds all its peace in hope, knowing that Christ must come again to elevate and transfigure ordinary things and fill them with His glory.  (Thomas Merton)

The Gospel of the two men praying in the temple, the Pharisee and the tax collector, reveals to what kind of prayer penetrates to God. We notice a difference even in their respective postures.   The one stands “with unbowed head” as if the temple belongs to him, while the other “keeps his distance,” as if he has crossed the threshold of a house in which he really does not belong. The first one prays “to himself,” really, not even praying to God but reviewing for himself the list of his virtues assuming that, when God Himself notices them, He will respect them and marvel at them.   Moreover, this man catalogues his virtues as a means of setting himself off from “other men,” none of whom have attained his level of perfection. He is traveling the road of “self-discovery,” which is precisely the path of “loss of God.” The other man can only discover sin in himself, can only find himself devoid of God, which, as he pleads, “be merciful to me,” turns into an empty place for God to occupy.  No-one, whose ultimate goal is his own perfection, will ever find God. Anyone who has the humility to permit God’s perfection to take effect in his emptiness – not by being passive but by working with the talent He gives him – will be considered a “justified” person in the sight of God. (Hans Urs von Balthasar)

The Law did not make anyone righteous; it only taught all those who were under it that they were not righteous, and thus revealed negatively the righteousness of God…. The Law, which should have served to teach us that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom v. 23), frequently serves as a way of our dividing the world into good and bad, of our separating it into those who follow the Law and those who do not. The person who, owing to his observance of the Law, is in a position to judge others as bad (that is, considers himself made righteous by the Law) reveals that the Law does not get to the heart of man. Such a person has his identity, his ‘me,’ still constituted on the basis of victimizing, of expelling, of separation. Being convinced of the right-ness (and righteousness) of his position, it is very much more difficult for him to receive the dependence on what is other than him of the constitution of his ‘me,’ and thus have his ‘me’ transformed, have it healed from its dependence on persecution.  Here it is apparent that Paul’s teaching on the Law is identical with Jesus’ practice in relation to the ‘Pharisees,’ his evident predilection for sinners, and such parables as that of the tax collector and the Pharisee in the Temple (Lk 18:10-14). (James Alison)

We must only pray by placing ourselves before God just as we are. Not like the pharisee who prays with arrogance and hypocrisy. We are all taken up by the frenetic pace of daily life, often at the mercy of feelings, dazed and confused. It is necessary to learn how to rediscover the path to our heart, to recover the value of intimacy and silence, because the God who encounters us and speaks to us, is there. Only by beginning there can we, in our turn, encounter others and speak with them. (Pope Francis)


     Perhaps the least-known of all the liturgical books the church employs in its public worship is something called the Roman Martyrology.  It contains the list (“canon”) of all the saints and blesseds whose memorials occur on a given day – far more than commemorated in the General Roman Calendar.  It consists of brief synopses of each saint or blessed followed by a short reading and concluding prayer.  When celebrated it usually forms part of the Liturgy of the Hours.  To date it has not been translated into English from Latin and is only employed in some monastic communities or by odd people like myself.  

     So each day I am edified, challenged and yes, sometimes amused and other times left incredulous, by the stories of men and women from every time and place whose heroic lives of holiness and virtue have been recognized by longstanding tradition or church authority.  Sometimes I am moved to tears especially by the accounts of martyrs – many of whom lost their lives in the previous century to the latter-day Neros in Russia, Germany, Spain, Mexico, China and other locales where people witnessed to their faith to the point of shedding their blood.

     On October 14  the memorial of an early pope named Callistus was celebrated about whom I knew little.  The brief sketch at my web resource was supplemented by the commentary of Bl. Ildefonso Schuster in his The Sacramentary – a work of astonishing historical and liturgical scholarship published in the early 20th Century. The story of Callistus as told by Schuster goes in part like this -- don’t worry, this all has to do with today’s Gospel:

The early discipline of the Church, which abandoned to the judgment of God alone the graver sins against faith and morals, was not adapted to society in the third century. The Christians had increased in number, but their zeal had declined. Therefore Callistus, in a famous edict, violently attacked by Hippolytus and Tertullian, promised absolution to all those who should have performed the canonical penances….Hippolytus, on his side, declared that the excessive mildness of Callistus was a scandal, and would break down the barriers of public morality. Many Romans were won over…to abandon the cause of Callistus….The saintly Pope, who in his sermons appealed to the example of the Good Shepherd was not moved by the violence of his enemies, and continued to the end in his mission of peace. According to some writers, Callistus perished in a riot …. His body,  [was] thrown at first into a well [and] must afterwards have been secretly buried (Vol. 5, 176).

     One value of accessing church history via the lives of the saints is realizing “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Upon reading this story, I could not but think of contemporary parallels by which today’s rigorists – always in the name of tradition and orthodoxy – continually attack the present Bishop of Rome accusing him of lax standards when it comes to questions of morals and who are always suspecting him of some kind of heresy.  The latest example stems from something Francis said in his recent letter on the liturgy about the Eucharist:

No one had earned a place at that Supper…. The world still does not know it, but everyone is invited to the supper of the wedding of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). To be admitted to the feast all that is required is the wedding garment of faith which comes from the hearing of his Word (cf. Rom 10:17). (Desiderio desideravi 5; June 29, 2022)

     To which a group of Francis’ opponents, including prominent theologians, responded:

This natural meaning [of these words] contradicts the faith of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has always taught that in order to receive the Holy Eucharist worthily and without sin, Catholics must receive sacramental absolution, if possible, for any mortal sins they may have committed and obey all other laws of the Church concerning reception of the Eucharist.

We, the undersigned, confess the Catholic faith concerning the worthy reception of the Eucharist as it is defined by the Council of Trent, according to which faith alone is not a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist. We encourage all the bishops and clerics of the Catholic Church to publicly confess the same doctrine about the worthy reception of the Eucharist, and enforce the related canons in order to avoid grave and public scandal. (September 16, 2022)

     Now I assume the pope’s opponents, like Hippolytus (who despite being a valued witness to the church’s early liturgical rites nevertheless became the church’s first anti-pope though he was reconciled to the church before his death) and Tertullian (who despite being considered the father of Western theology nevertheless fell for the false teaching of a self-declared “prophet” and leader of a schismatic sect by the name of Montanus though he never left the church) – I assume Francis’ enemies act in good faith, but let’s hope he doesn’t end up at the bottom of a well in the Vatican Gardens!

     But there’s another value to reading church history through the lives of its chief protagonists, the saints.  And that’s to realize how, over and over again, more conservative factions have rarely carried the day.  Not the partisans of the Law of Moses who opposed St. Paul – the ones about whom he complained,  No one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me (II).  Not the Donatists who opposed St. Augustine for holding that clergy must be faultless for their sacraments to be valid. (Thank goodness for Augustine!)  Not St. Cyprian in his disagreement with Pope Stephen over whether those who lapsed during persecution had to be rebaptized.  Not the pessimistic Jansenists with their emphasis on original sin, human depravity and the unlikelihood of salvation counteracted by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of God’s merciful love.  Not the “only Catholics are saved” views of Boston’s Fr. Leonard Feeney who was excommunicated by the Holy See for teaching such a thing.  And not today’s traditionalist sectarians, followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, who was also excommunicated for ordaining bishops without papal mandate.


And you can run into these things in the most unexpected places.  I was in Trader Joe’s recently and in the check-out aisle next to me was a nun in full traditional habit — long dress, rosary beads, wimple and veil. Curiosity naturally set in so I waited outside the store until she came out.  I was surprised to see she was perhaps in her early 20s.  “Excuse me, Sister,” I said,” may I ask what order you belong to?”  “Franciscan,” she replied with a friendly smile.  “Oh, and where is your convent?” came the next question.  “Oh, on such-and-such a street.  The church of the  __________.”  “Oh,” I said, “Lefebvre’s St. Pius X Society.”  “Oh no,” she corrected me.  “People often mistake us for that.”  “Ah, so what is your ecclesiastical affiliation then?”  “We’re sede vacantists,” came a little less friendly response as she began to scurry away.  “Ah, that’s too bad,” I muttered.  In other words, she belongs to a schismatic group that believes the Apostolic See has had no occupant since the Second Vatican Council.  And since she realized I believe Pope Francis is the legitimate Successor of Peter that was the end of our encounter.     


Of course, church history is chock full of such groups that judge others to be unorthodox or heretical and they all have a tendency to skirt with schism since, after all, they belong to the church of the pure — while you do not.  And no matter how many times a Callistus points out by contrast the Gospel of mercy evident on most any page of the New Testament — including the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector — it seems to make little impact.  But if you ever do run into one of these Christians please tell them about Pope Callistus – just make sure you’re nowhere near a well.    



Intercessions (The Sunday Web Site)

For the Church: that we may recognize our need for God and resist relying upon our own efforts to justify ourselves.

For all who are bound by a spirit of self-righteousness: that God will free their hearts, break down the walls of prejudice, and open them to the dignity of each person.

For all leaders of government, nationally, regionally, and municipally: that God will inspire them with new ways to promote the welfare of citizens and the common good.

For all who are in need; for the poor, the homeless, the widow, the orphan and those on the margins of society: that God will open our eyes and hearts to their needs and their presence in our communities.

For all who are recovering from storms, floods or wildfires: that God will give them courage and guide them to the assistance which they need.

For all immigrants and refugees: that they may find new homes and enrich these places with their gifts and talents.

For all who are bound by drug addiction: that God will break the bonds that hold them, help them to seek assistance and guide them to people who will support and challenge them to live in a new way.

For the gift of peace and an end to violence: that God will turn hearts from violence, inspire leaders to start new initiatives and give courage to all who are working for peace.

 O God,
who alone can probe the depths of the heart,
you hear the prayer of the humble
and justify the repentant sinner.
As we stand before you,
grant us the gift of humility,
that we may see our own sins clearly
and refrain from judging our neighbour.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Hymn


I fought the good fight, I have finished the race,

I have kept the faith.

 God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award

me on that day.

I tell you, that this man went down justified before God.

The Lord will bring me safely to his kingdom.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn


Two men betook themselves in the morning to

pray in the temple;

one of them was a Pharisee, the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood there alone and said his prayer,

and the publican stood afar off;

truly, he did not dare to raise up his eyes unto heaven,

but he smote upon his breast; and they spake thus:

“I thank thee, Lord God that I am not like other people,

(“God, unto me show mercy!”)

Robbers, double-dealers, marriage-defilers,

or even as this publican!”

(“God, unto me show mercy!”)

“I keep two fast days a week,

and give to the temple a full tenth of all my earnings!”

(“God, unto me show mercy!”)

I say to you: this same publican went home justified,

rather than the other;

for he who vaunts himself up shall be eternally humbled,

and he who shows humility, the same exalted shall be.