The gospel of this Sunday (Lk.18:9-14) shows us a man that, nowadays, people would say is ‘full of himself’!
This Pharisee does not hesitate to remind, even God, of all his qualities and good actions.
We justly see his claims for what they are: boasting pure and simple.
But, the 2nd reading (Tm. 4:6-8,16-18) presents us with another man, Paul the apostle,
whose words are also rather astonishing in this respect.
He writes to his friend, Timothy, in these terms:
“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.”
Before writing these lines, he has admitted: “The time for my departure is near.”
He is aware that soon his life may be coming to an end, he looks back on what his experience has been.
His positive appraisal of his life could sound like boasting but he makes it very clear where his strength has come from:
“The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…
To him be glory for ever.”
Obviously, Paul was not longer the Pharisee he had been!
This is what is expected of us:
the recognition that whatever we manage to do,
whatever we succeed in achieving,
it is God who does it with us and through us.
An additional note is called for: some may argue that it happened that Paul boasted.
This is correct; in 2 Co.11:16, this is what he admits to:
“Let no one take me for a fool.
But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool,
so that I may do a little boasting.”
But he hastens to add:
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
Who could object to that?!
Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/30e-dimanche-de-lannee-c-2019/