Sunday, October 27, 2019
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. Luke 18:9
This Scripture passage is the introduction to the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. This parable offers quite a contrast between two general attitudes. First, the Pharisee’s attitude reveals that he is very impressed with himself, thinking highly of his public image, and is unaware of his own sin. Second, the tax collector’s attitude reveals that he is deeply aware of his own sin, is sorry for it and knows he is in need of God’s mercy. The result of these two very different attitudes is that the tax collector went home justified whereas the Pharisee did not.
What does it mean to be justified? It means that the tax collector had a clear conscience and was grounded in the truth. He knew his need for mercy, begged for it and received it. He did not lie to himself, to others or to God. He knew who he was and it is this truth that allowed God to exalt him. The tax collector’s justification came through the forgiveness of his sins and the bestowal of the mercy of God in his life.
The Pharisee may have felt good about himself to a certain extent in that he elevated himself for all to see. He was convinced of his own self-righteousness but, in truth, was not righteous. He was only self-righteous. He was living a lie and most likely believed that lie and even may have convinced others of that lie. But the fact remained, the Pharisee was not righteous and he was not truly justified.
What we must take from this passage is a profound realization of the importance of living in the truth. Those who paint a false image of themselves may fool themselves and may even fool others. But they will never fool God and they will never be able to achieve true peace in their soul. We each must realize the humble truth of our sin and weakness and, in that realization, beg for the only remedy – the mercy of God.
Reflect, today, upon the prayer of this tax collector: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Make it your prayer. Admit your sin. Acknowledge your need for the mercy of God and allow that mercy to exalt you within the righteousness of God.
Lord, Jesus Christ, please be merciful to me, for I am a sinner. I acknowledge my sin and my weakness and I beg for Your abundant mercy. Please pour forth Your mercy and help me to open my heart to all that You wish to bestow. Help me to live in the humble truth, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.