Priests have two different outlooks toward their vocations.  Older priests, from pre-Vatican II, tend to see themselves as servants of the Faithful.  Younger priests, following Vatican II, tend to see themselves as presiders and owners of the Table of Faith.  The differences are in emphasis, rather than mutually exclusive.  How this came about may be as follows.


Vatican II tried to discern what set apart the priestly vocation in the Roman Catholic rite.  The role of servant would not do.  That role was not apparently different from what the rest of the Faithful might do.  The Faithful, however, might not preside over the liturgy.  In that way, the priestly attitude changed.


While the differences are something I am observing, I was unable to document this change in attitude.  I searched Jonathan Englert, The Collar: A Year of Striving and Faith Inside a Catholic Seminary,[1] without success.  Englert has no index and neither the Contents nor my highlighting helped with the examination.  Lectionary readings for this Sunday do contrast those exalted because of office and lifestyle, from the rest of humanity.


Hoi polloi, based on the Greek, means the general populace.[2]  The Greek for the rest in Luke 18:9 and for the rest of humanity in Luke 18:11 is closely aligned with the Greek for hoi polloi, which has worked its way into standard English.  Post-Vatican II priests tend to disassociate themselves from the hoi polloi.  The Gospel is about such disassociation.


Sirach 35:21 makes much the same point of disassociation from the hoi polloi, with The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.  The Psalm 34:7a Responsorial Antiphon is, The Lord hears the cry of the poor, that is, the hoi polloi.  2 Timothy 4:17, looks in the same direction, through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  If any are hoi polloi, they are the Gentiles.


Finally, JustFaith draws attention to the hoi polloi with the fall 2007 topics: Immigration, Climate Change, The UN Millennium Development Goals, Federal Budget Priorities, and Prison Reform.  Because of the attitude of Post Vatican II priests, I doubt the relationship between the JustFaith topics and the Lectionary will be brought out and I offer my observations as a potential resource and encouragement.



Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line.  Those uninterested in scholarly details should stop reading here.  If they do, however, they may miss some of the fun stuff scholars are digging up.


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


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

          Psalm 34

          Lawrence Boadt, C.S.P., “The Use of `Panels’ in the Structure of Psalms 73—78”[3]

          In 2004, Boadt included Psalm 34 among five others “in which each line actually begins with the next letter of the alphabet.”  Reading on, I am unsure whether Boadt and Ceresko, below, disagree.  I call the possibility of disagreement to attention, however.


          Psalm 34

          Anthony R. Ceresko, O.S.F.S., "Endings and Beginnings: Alphabetic Thinking and the Shaping of Psalms 106 and 150"[4]

          Quoting Patrick W. Skehan, Ceresko wrote, “… Psalm 34 … skips the letter waw.” This disagrees with Boadt, above. The larger point is that there is such a literary genre as alphabetic thinking exhibited in this psalm. Alphabetic thinking  grounds itself more in reason than the other more emotional psalms. In his 2006 documentation, Ceresko does not acknowledge the 2004 Boadt.  Ceresko devotes a major section of his article, pages 34-37, to “Alphabetic Thinking in Psalm 34.”


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

          2 Tim 4:8

          David J. Downs, "`Early Catholicism’ and Apocalypticism in the Pastoral Epistles”[5]

          Downs refers to the author of 2 Timothy as the Pastor, whereas William O. Walker, Jr., below, refers to the author as the pseudo-Paul.  Downs quotes J. Christian Beker to write, “Although the Pastor remains committed to the conviction of Paul and early Christianity that the eschatological [i.e. last] judgment and the ultimate revelation of the glory of God are to be expected (1 Tim 6:14, 15; 2 Tim 4:8; Titus 2:13),  his adoption of a triumphant epiphaneia [Epiphany or appearance] Christology and his emphasis on matters of ecclesial order and administration ( 1 Tim 2:1-12; Titus 1:5—2:10) show his fading interest in the imminent coming of the end of time.”  The Church is working out the presider and servant aspects of priestly vocations.


          2 Tim 4:17b

          “William O. Walker, Jr., “1 Corinthians 15:29-34 as a Non-Pauline Interpolation”[6]

          Walker writes, “Finally, the pseudo-Pauline 2 Tim 4:17b refers to Paul being ‘rescued from the lion’s mouth’ …. It is unclear whether the words are to be interpreted literally or figuratively, but it is important to note that the (fictive) setting is not Ephesus but rather Rome.”


Alleluia: 2 Corinthians 5:19


Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

          Luke 18:9-14

          Craig L. Blomberg, "Interpreting the Parables of Jesus: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?"[7]

Blomberg hyphenates tax-collector; the Lectionary does not. Blomberg writes, “Thus the parable of the Pharisee and Tax-collector (Luke 18:9-14) comes as close to the pure form-critical category of example-story as any of Jesus’ teachings; the model of vain pride is to be avoided and the paradigm of humble pleading for mercy to be imitated.”


Luke 18:11-12

Christopher Grasso, A Speaking Aristocracy: Transforming Public Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Connecticut[8]

          Grasso writes that Elisha Stoddard-Williams preached Calvinism and conversion to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1727, thirteen years before George Whitefield arrived to ignite the religious revivals of the Great Awakening.  The point Elisha Stoddard-Williams made was not trusting on one’s own self-righteousness.  As counter-cultural as the U.S. Catholic Church may wish to regard itself, in some areas of U.S. history the Catholic Church can afford to join in with the established culture.


Luke 18:14

The Bishops exhibit inadvertent scholarship between the ways they translate Luke 18:9 in their Catechism[9] and in their Lectionary.  The Catechism translation is from Chapter 36, “Jesus Taught Us to Pray.”  The difference between the Catechism and Lectionary only occurs in verse 14.


          Lectionary      for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,

                               and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

          Catechism     for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.


          Grammatically, the Catechism is an improved translation, even if it does not gather in the holy sound of the King James Bible.


          Luke 18:9-14

          Robert Doran, "The Pharisee and the Tax Collector: An Agonistic Story"[10]

          Translations legitimately vary according to the audience for which they are written.  Lectionary translations emanate from agreement among a group of scholars. Individual scholars, however, legitimately make their own translations for those reading their scholarship.  Such is the case here.  Following the Lectionary line-breaks, the translations are presented below.


Doran:          Two people went up to the temple to pray,

Lectionary    “Two people went up to the temple area to pray:


Doran:                    one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.

Lectionary              one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.


Doran:          The Pharisee standing by himself prayed thus:

Lectionary    The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself.


Doran:          “O God, I thank you because I am not like the rest of people,

Lectionary      `O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity


Doran:                     predators, wrongdoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

Lectionary                greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.


Doran:           I fast twice in the week, I tithe everything I acquire.”

Lectionary      I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’


Doran:           The tax collector standing far off

Lectionary      But the tax collector stood off at a distance


Doran:                     did not wish to lift even his eyes to heaven

Lectionary                and would not even raise his eyes to heaven


Doran:                     but beat his breast saying,

Lectionary                but beat his breast and prayed,


Doran:                     “O God, Pardon me, a sinner.”

Lectionary                `O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’


Doran:           This one went down to his house more upright than that one.

Lectionary      I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;



Lectionary                for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,



Lectionary                and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


I am not going back into the original Greek to take sides.  I simply want to expose legitimate differences as a means for understanding presiders.


Another observation by Doran is that “… tithing applies only to food and drink, not to everything one acquires, such as a house, clothes, and so on.”


          Luke 18:9

          Joseph Plevnik, "`The Eleven and Those with Them’ According to Luke”[11]

          Plevnik offers a detailed lexicographic explanation of “the rest.”



For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at


[1] Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.


[2] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate ® Dictionary: Eleventh Edition (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2003) 592.


[3] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (October 2004) 537.


[4] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2006) 33, 34.


[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 4 (October 2005) 646, 652, 655, 659.


[6] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (January 2007) 96.


[7] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 1 (January 1991) 73, 77.


[8] Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999 46-47 fn 29.


[9] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006) 482.


[10] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 2 (April 2007) 259-270. For the tithing quotation see 267.


[11] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 2 (April 1978) 207, 208.