24 Oct 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
30th Sunday – C
Dear friends in Christ,
In today’s Gospel Jesus taught how prayer could change people’s life using the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector who went up to the Temple area to pray. The Pharisee stood high in front of the altar, raised his voice and said, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity…” The Tax Collector, standing in the back with head bowed low and prayed: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus concluded his story with a surprise for his hearers, “I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former.”
There is a fundamental difference in these two men: one filled with self-righteousness and pride, and the other with humility and dependence. Some modern day Pharisees will say, “I don’t go to Mass, but I am a good Christian. I am faithful to my wife, I don’t talk about people, I am honest in my business, and I contribute money to help the poor. Certainly, I am not like the people who go to Mass: they talk about neighbors, they lie and cheat. I am not a hypocrite!” Like the Pharisees, these people believe they have no sins. But like the Pharisees, they have only one sin: having no love for God.
Christianity is more than a religion of the “righteous,” it is a religion of loving relationship with God; and in this relationship one proper attitude is required: humble recognition of the truth about oneself as weak, imperfect and sinful, and a need of God’s mercy. The Tax Collector felt this need and prayed, “O Lord, be merciful to me.” He went home with sin forgiven and heart renewed. Meanwhile, the Pharisee with great commitment to tradition, keeping all the rules, fasting and almsgiving, but he denied that he was weak and sinful like “the rest of humanity.” His prayer became dead.
Today, let us make that journey from the Pharisee at the front to the Tax Collector at the back. This is a journey of repentance and of facing up to the truth, knowing our place before God, “in whom we live and move and have our being.” Start the journey and find Peace.