Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.” (Lk 18:9-10)
If we were instructed to do so, I think every one of us would be able to sit down with paper and pen in hand and write a list of those who act as if they are better than everyone else. Sadly, it is a rather common occurrence in today’s world. People think they are better than others because they have more money, more prestige, more power, more whatever. They wield that “more” as if it were a weapon and use that “more” to keep other people down.
However, the reason we have been given “more” of anything is so that we could use our blessings to help others. We were not given more in order to lord it over others. We were given more to lift them up, to give them hope, to let them know that they matter.
In today’s Gospel, we hear about the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. One, the Pharisee, is filled with himself and goes so far as to brag in front of God as he “prayed” at the temple. His prayer was not even a prayer. It was a time to make other people notice him.
The tax collector, on the other hand, knew that he was a sinner and knew that he was in need of God’s mercy. He humbly begged for God to hear him.
And God did.
The comparison that Jesus made in the parable would raise the hackles of many of his listeners because they, too, thought that they were better than others. But, the truth is the truth and Jesus knew that they needed to hear it, whether it angered them or not.
Does it anger you? Are you filled with yourself like the Pharisee in today’s Gospel? Or, are you aware of your sinfulness and willing to come before God humbly asking for His pardon?
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those who are so filled with themselves that they have lost the way. Ask God to give you the grace that you need to remain contrite and humble.