In the first reading(Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18) the author states that Yahweh is not unduly partial toward the weak, yet he does hear the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, the lowly, always affirming what is right. In other words, those who are powerful because they have earthly resources can depend and use what they have at their fingertips, but those who are without earthly resources have God to call upon to enable them to obtain what is just and right.
The gospel reading this Sunday (Lk 18:9-14) starts: “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” The Pharisee starts off by thanking God that he is so much better than ‘the rest of humanity’. However, it is not recognize what God does that makes him so much better but what he does: “I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.” The tax collector, however, has much to be sorrowful for but he puts himself in the hands of God’s mercy and power. When God does it, it is truly done. When we think we do it without God, it is a mirage. If we please ourselves and not God, we are lost. If we please God, no matter what others think, we have truly accomplished something.
In the second reading (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18), Paul sees himself as having been poured out like a cup of sacrifice and now he is empty. He sees the Lord as ready to award him, and all who have lived longing for his appearance, “the crown of righteousness.” Then Paul goes on to relate how “the Lord stood by me and gave me strength.” “And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2 Timothy 4:14 – Paul relates that Alexander the coppersmith had done Paul great harm. Paul in insinuates that he had to defend himself against Alexander.) “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.” Paul proclaims his absolute dependence on God. It is to God’s glory that we are saved, we are made holy, we are rescued from the evils of this world, from our own self-righteous inclinations.