26TH MARCH 2022
The season of Lent is the highest time for each and every one of us to be closer and closer to God and to each other. It is a high time to purify ourselves and to strive for our holiness so that we may be able to celebrate well the Greatest Mystery of our salvation which is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the source of our salvation.
The church gives us three ways to reach that true conversion and purification: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In praying, we put our full trust in God alone and honouring Him as our God and Savior. In fasting we purify and control our freshly desire and wanting to be able to overcome our own inclination. In giving alms to other, we extend the Love God fills us to other who are really in need of so that we may share in the generosity of God who sends his Only Son for our sake.
The Gospel of today talks about the attitude which God desires, accepts and what He despises. In the Gospel of today, Jesus introduces the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. They both go to the Temple to pray, but their prayers are very different from each other. The two are completely contradictory but also our reality in our way of praying.
The first prayer is the prayer of the Pharisee. He started by making an effort to go to the temple, and he begins by thanking God, then he continues to praise himself of not being a sinner, being just, righteous, fulfilling his religious duties, his spiritual exercise of fasting and giving almsgiving to the poor. His is very dishonest. And in fact there is nothing like praying in his statement. There is no place for God in His prayer; he just prays and glorifies himself as well us judging and condemning the tax collector. In doing so, he takes the place of God and makes himself a god.
But the prayer of the tax collector is exceptionally sincere and honest. He starts by acknowledging his unworthiness to stand before the greatness of God. He begins by asking for God’s forgiveness and mercy. In doing so He express his trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness as well as His desire to convert and change his way of life. This is the best prayer God needs from us. Jesus concludes by saying that the tax collector went home justified but not the Pharisee. He states, “...for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
True humility is simply being honest. In humility, we acknowledge who really Our God is for us as well as who we really are. When we humble ourselves, we realize our nothingness and our need to seek for his Mercy and forgiveness. When we understand the mercy of God, this humility is much easier. God is not a God of harshness but is a God of the utmost mercy. When we understand that God’s deepest desire is to forgive us and to reconcile us to Himself, then we will deeply desire honest humility before Him.
Lent is an important time for us to deeply examine our conscience and make new resolutions for the future. Doing so will bring new freedom and grace into our lives. So do not be afraid to honestly examine your conscience so as to see your sin clearly in the way God sees it. Doing so will put you in a position to pray this prayer of the tax collector: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”