Daily Thought For October 23, 2022
Powerful Reflection from The Word Among Us
Let’s not get off on the wrong foot with the Pharisee in this parable. He seemed to be doing pretty well spiritually. He was not greedy, dishonest, or adulterous. He fasted twice a week and went so far as to pay tithes on all his income. He prayed at the Temple regularly. That was better than most people. So why did Jesus say he didn’t go home justified?
Because the Temple was a place of encounter with God. A holy location where God and his children came together. This Pharisee seemed to be missing that connection with the Lord. Instead of speaking his prayer to God, he prayed “to himself” (Luke 18:11) and itemized his accomplishments. By focusing on his righteous acts, he was not really making himself present to God. He wasn’t inviting God to be present to him either. So he missed the chance to encounter God and receive his mercy and grace. In that sense, the Pharisee left the Temple basically the same way he had entered.
The tax collector, on the other hand, laid himself bare before God. He knew his failings and unworthiness and had no list of righteous acts to display to God. He opened his heart and begged for mercy. There, in that vulnerable, humble moment, God and man came together in a real way. And as a result, the tax collector went home a new man.
Prayer isn’t always a raw, gut-wrenching experience like the tax collector had. But if we want to encounter God as we pray, we do need to approach him with honesty and humility. We need to open our hearts to God and ask him to come in.
When you go to Mass today, you’ll be entering a holy place where God and his children come together. Come, like the tax collector, without pretense and ready to receive his grace and mercy.
“God, you alone are holy. I open my heart and invite you to cleanse me. Make me like you!”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)