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March 30, 2019 Featured

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book PNG2112Gospel: Luke 18:9-14 -
Jesus told another parable to some people, fully convinced of their own righteousness, who looked down on others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself, and said, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people, grasping, crooked, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and give a tenth of all my income to the temple.’

In the meantime the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’
I tell you, when this man went back to his house, he had been reconciled with God, but not the other. For whoever makes  himself  out  to  be  great  will  be  humbled,  and whoever humbles himself will be raised up.”

Reflections:
“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Jesus describes two men. One is apparently righteous; he is ho- nest, obeys the law, and tithes his income. But his heart is a desert of pride. “Thank God I am not like other people… or even like this tax collector,” he says. Lacking any self-awareness or consciousness of his own sin, he truly worships his own image—a form of idolatry as real as if he worshipped a golden calf. Meanwhile, the tax collector, whom he disdains, offers a genuinely heartfelt prayer: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Christians like to mock the Pharisees. But the figure in Jesus’ parables is all too familiar. How often do we congratulate our- selves on our virtue, our piety, our respectability, disdaining others without any conception of what is in their hearts, or consciousness of our reliance on God’s mercy.
In contrast, Pope Francis, when asked to describe himself, replied, “I am a sinner. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. . . I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” It is good to obey the law, to tithe, to fast, and pray. But the only honest self-description for any Christian is simply, “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”In contrast, Pope Francis, when asked to describe himself, replied, “I am a sinner. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. . . I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” It is good to obey the law, to tithe, to fast, and pray. But the only honest self-description for any Christian is simply, “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”

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