The First Reading is from the Book of Sirach. Sirach insists that the poor person’s gift is equal in value to the rich person’s gift. God has no favorite. Although God has no favorites, he does have a special place in his heart for the prayer of the weak, oppressed, orphaned, the deaf, and widowed. These are not necessarily poor people; rather, they are those who approach God in prayer with humility, recognizing their needs and their dependence upon God for help.
The Second Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy. The time of the writing of this letter is near the end of St. Paul's life. He is in prison in Rome and recognizes that the end is near. He has competed well; he has finished the race; he has kept the faith. He meant that through the witness of his life and adherence to the doctrine of Christ crucified he had endured in spite of persecution. God stands by his side offering him strength.
The Gospel Reading is taken from the Gospel of Luke. Jesus sharers a parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector. So they go off to pray in the Temple. When they finish praying, Jesus says that God is pleased with the tax collector’s prayer because of his humility that makes him pleasing to God. “He who humbles himself will be exalted.” Sirach says: “The prayer of the lowly (humble) person pierces the clouds.” The tax collector is deeply aware of his sinfulness before God. He is honest with himself before God, and his prayer simply asks for God’s mercy.