We are Christians, we are God’s children, we are followers of Christ, we are made in God’s image and likeness, but what is the impact of our religion in our lives today? What impact has our Catholic Faith made in our lives today? How has our faith in God brought us closer to Him today and how evident is that faith in our thoughts, words and actions? I believe these thoughts and questions were in mind of Saint Paul when he convincing said “Beloved: 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...” These words of Saint Paul in his letter to Timothy as we heard in the second reading today are very deep words for us to meditate on and think about. We as Christians and God’s children always emphasize the importance of hearing God’s word, answering our call to discipleship, accepting the gospel of Christ, and living out the gospel, but are we truly living out our faith in God in our world today? Are we just living fake lives as Christians and just physically participating in the sacraments to fulfill our obligations or to gain recognition, applause and the praise of others? How often do we evaluate ourselves to know if we are running the race well like Saint Paul and are on the right track to attaining the kingdom of heaven in the end? Have we given everything or poured out our lives for God to let His kingdom reign in our lives and in our world today? Are we competing strongly like Saint Paul to make God’s kingdom evident in our lives and in our world today? How are we doing in the race to attain the kingdom of heaven, are we working hard or hardly working? How strong is our faith in God that we stand with Him and His teaching always without fear, prejudice or worry? Are we still focused on the crown of glory set aside for us when we attain the kingdom of God or have we forgotten our goal of heaven for other worthless things that will never lead us to God? Ask yourself, If I were to die right away, am I ready to face the Just Judge? My dear friends in Christ, our Catholic Faith is not just a show that we are called to participate in, but a call to attain the kingdom of heaven after our lives here on earth. So, how are we living out our faith in God? Are we here to please people or to please God? What makes us Christians if we have failed to live out the gospel or proclaim the gospel? In today’s gospel reading, the parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee clearly shows us how to practice our faith so as to please God rather than humans. The Pharisee was more concerned about the external show of piety and discipleship, but the tax collector was more worried about his sins and changing his life for good in order to attain the kingdom of heaven! Are we like the Pharisee that showers praises on himself for living out the gospel for selfish gains and praise, or are we like the Tax Collector who would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and begged God for forgiveness and mercy.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, find out for yourself if you are really pouring out your life like a libation for God, just as Jesus did for us and Saint Paul did. Are we competing well in our world today by spreading and living out the gospel of Christ? Are we running the race to attain the kingdom of God well? Are we truly and sincerely focused on finishing that race to heaven? Are we keeping our faith in God alive everyday and are we preparing ourselves well to receive the crown of righteousness that awaits those who have longed for God’s appearance and have truthfully and sincerely answered their call to discipleship.