The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector challenges us to consider our own “righteousness.” It might be helpful by looking at the word “right” rather than “righteousness.” Most of us would probably say we aren’t righteous but are there times in our lives in which we feel that we are right? Our intentions are not usually negative or malicious yet we see ourselves in certain situations as being correct. Is it possible that occasionally our belief about our own “rightness” actually blocks us from God and what He knows is best?
During the second half of Lent it might be helpful to ask ourselves these question: Are there areas of my life in which I need to be open to new insights and let go of my need to be right? Can my openness to God’s view or the wisdom of another person transform my thinking and bring it more in alignment with the mind of Christ?
Hosea 6:1-6 – Israel Unrepentant
1 “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” 4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. 5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. 6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
Psalm 51:3-4, 18-21
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Luke 18:9-14 – The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody 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 up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–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 everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
through our observance of Lent, may we
realize a deeper understanding of the
suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.
May our understanding bring us to the full joy of Easter.
Today’s lesson is a powerful one.
The one person praying in the temple is proud of his spiritual accomplishments.
The other person is deeply humble before God,
and goes home having really named the graces desired.
Through our daily practices,
help us to grow in our willingness to surrender our desires,
and develop anticipation of the full joy of Easter
Keep me from sin.
Only you can save me!
Then I will shout and sing about your power to save.
To make us His new creation, Christ the Lord gave us the gift of the cross.
Let us call upon Him and say:
Lord, renew us in your grace.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, clothe us with compassion, kindness and humility,
– help us want to be patient with everyone.
Teach us to be true neighbors to all in trouble and distress,
– and so imitate you, the Good Samaritan.
Grant us the gift of your mercy,
– forgive our sins – both in deed and thought.
God of mercy and understanding,Amen.
I know that with your help
I can open my heart more fully
to the mysteries of the suffering and death
of your Son.
Help me to be humble in this journey
and remember that any mercy and compassion I feel
is a gift from you.
I await the joy of Easter with new longing and patience.