Saturday, May 18, 2019
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus told this parable for a reason. Luke writes that Jesus told this parable because some people were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on others whom they considered less righteous. Jesus did not condemn the Pharisee, per se. The Pharisee did some good things, certainly, like giving his tithe, fasting on a regular basis and going to the Temple to pray. The problem is that he pointed out in his prayers that this tax collector was beneath him, and thanked God he was not like that man.
Maybe I don’t commit one particular sin, but I cannot think I am better just because I avoid one temptation only to fail in another area. I cannot judge one person for doing one wrong that I don’t, when perhaps that other person doesn’t get tripped up in the ways that I do. We have both done wrong things. Maybe my sins are less obvious, but they are there, nonetheless.
The tax collector may have indeed done wrong things, but he threw himself on the Lord’s mercy. He knew himself to be unworthy before the greatness of our God, and humbled himself as he prayed. The Pharisee, is so like us. We want to think we are superior to someone else – by our material goods, by our educational or professional background, even our family history or ethnic heritage. We find it so easy to overlook our shortcomings.
Words from Pope Francis – “God never tires of forgiving us, but we tire of asking him for forgiveness.” In our prayers today, may we find the grace to be humbled, and realize how unworthy we all are, but by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Purify my heart, Let me be as gold and precious silver. Purify my heart, Let me be as gold, pure gold.
Refiner’s fire, My heart’s one desire Is to be… holy; Set apart for You, Lord.
I choose to be… holy; Set apart for You, my Master, Ready to do Your will.
Purify my heart, Cleanse me from within And make me holy. Purify my heart, Cleanse me from my sin, deep within.
Refiner’s fire, My heart’s one desire Is to be… holy; Set apart for You, Lord. I choose to be… holy.
Set apart for You, my Master, Ready to do Your will.
“Purify My Heart” by Brian Doerksen