Poured Out like a Libation
Sunday Mass Readings Reflection 10/23/22
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...
Many funerals in our modern age have become quasi-canonization ceremonies. The pastor, family, and friends often talk about how great of a life a person lived through their accomplishments. The modern notion of a funeral is often rebranded for our cultural sensitivities as a ‘celebration of life’ ceremony. The reason is driven by what Bishop Robert Barron often discusses as two opposing terms developed by Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar: the Ego-Drama vs. the Theo-Drama.
Bishop Barron explains that the Ego-Drama is where we perceive ourselves as the directors of our life and the main focus of the narrative. Our modern secular age only views the world in the Ego-Drama. St. Paul, in many ways, used to be driven by his own Ego-Drama. Chapter 8 of the Acts of the Apostles describes Paul, referenced as Saul, as a man driven by a desire to follow the law with zeal.
The truth is God desires each of us to repent of our Ego-Drama and to cooperate with our part in the Theo-Drama where God is the director of salvation history. And on the road to Damascus, God reveals Paul’s part, which is to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
Paul notes in his letter to Timothy that his life has been poured out like a libation. The pouring of libations in the Ancient East has a religious character. Philo of Alexandria, in the Jewish context, “interpreted the sprinkling spiritually as a symbol of a person’s readiness to serve God fully.”
The imagery of the Psalms exhibits this pouring out of our Ego-Drama to be then filled by the Lord, who is the proper portion of our inheritance as adopted sons and daughters of God:
5 Lord, my allotted portion and my cup,
you have made my destiny secure.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
The Pharisee in today’s gospel is too consumed by his Ego-Drama and is concerned with his own righteousness, stating, “I am not like the rest of humanity…I fast twice a week…I pay tithes.” Jesus reminds us that those engaged in the Ego-Drama can still repent like the Tax Collector.
The hope is that we find ourselves like Paul, who writes, “I have finished the race…I have kept the faith.” Paul is not concerned with the place he finished the race—although he has competed well. No. Paul reminds us that it is the Lord who gave him the strength to finish the race—it is the Lord who overflowed his cup when Paul was willing to pour out his Ego-Drama.
Paul gives credit where credit is due:
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.
Let us reflect, who is the director of our lives? Do we put the will of God first? Do we desire the Lord for our portion? Let us pour out the cup of thyself and fill it with Thee humbling ourselves before the Lord and seeking forgiveness of our sins. Let us pray for this grace. Be glory to God forever. He will provide us with the strength to finish the race.
 Robert Barron , “Give up the Ego-Drama! - Bishop Barron's Sunday Sermon,” Word on Fire Digital (Word on Fire Ministries ), accessed October 22, 2022, https://www.wofdigital.org/videos/give-up-the-ego-drama-bishop-barrons-sunday-sermon.
 Benjamin Fiore, The Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus, ed. Daniel J. Harrington, vol. 12, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2007), 179.
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