3th Week of Lent
Saturday, 30th March 2019
Hos. 5:15b-6:6; Ps. 51(50):3-4,18-19,20-21; Lk. 18:9-14 (Ps Wk III)
For the people of Israel, there was only one legitimate response to what they believed to be God’s punishment: repentance. No excuses, no arrogance, no bargaining — just humble submission to God’s actions and a plea for forgiveness. This is in sharp contrast to the modern tendency to throw up a smokescreen of excuses and explanations in an effort to evade responsibility.
In this story the Pharisee stands for those of any religion, time, or place that feel morally and spiritually superior to others. We can even see ourselves sometimes in the symbol of the Pharisee! Who hasn’t looked down on someone whose life is less than exemplary with a smug sense of self-satisfaction? Psychologists — and the Bible — tell us that when we fail to deal with the darkness, sin, and imperfections in ourselves we project them onto other people or groups.
The things that we detest in others often lurk in the deeper levels of our own hearts. The things that we can’t stand in others can often be found in ourselves. When we know this, it can be very helpful for growing in self-knowledge. The tax-collector in the story, loathed and hated in Judea at the time, was right in God’s eyes because of his humility, honesty, and broken-hearted openness to God’s mercy.
Perhaps we can practice praying for those whom we cannot stand and examining our own inner self — that is where freedom and enlightenment begin. We have all fallen short of the glory of God.
Lord, help me to examine my own faults rather than those of others.