From the Pastor’s Desk
From our Director of Religious Education
In today’s Gospel, we continue to hear about the importance of prayer, specifically, humble prayer.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the following Parable: Two men enter the temple to pray, one man a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. Pharisees’ were people who knew the Law very well and were considered righteous. While a tax collector was seen as sinner.
Both of these men are seeking God and, at this point, both men have entered the temple with same intention: to pray. But as their prayers unfold, we see that they are far from similar.
The Pharisee takes his position. Can you imagine where the Pharisee was praying? He had “his position”. He most likely prayed in the same spot every day. How many of us have our favorite row? How many times have we held tight to our rightful place? Whether that be a physical seat or a position of power or seniority within a ministry or at work?
The tax collector stands off at a distance. Do we know the faces or names of our brothers and sisters who sit at the back of the pews? Have we welcomed new families with a smile? Or are they too far at a distance from us for us to do so?
The Pharisee prays ‘O God, I thank you that I, and I, and I…’ At this point the Pharisee is no longer praying to God but rather praising himself for being so righteous. He focuses on himself and when he finally talks about someone else, (the tax collector) it’s not to pray for him, but rather to judge him.
And then we hear the tax collector’s prayer who stands at distance, beats his chest and asks for mercy. The second man went home justified and not the first.
It’s so easy to judge our brothers and sisters, even as we reflect on this Gospel. How many of us have already judged the Pharisee for his attitude? Have we immediately dismissed him with no mercy? Have we exalted ourselves by believing that we too are humble and sinful like the tax collector?
The Pharisee was very likely a good man. The problem with his approach to prayer was that his prayer turned into self-idolatry.
Like the tax collector, we too should recognize our sins and give God the place he deserves. We should let him be God, our Father and we his humble children who come to him, like a child comes to his mother for compassion and love after he has stumbled.
As Christians, our attitude in prayer, our attitude in worship and even our attitude towards our sins should always reflect our dependency on God’s goodness and mercy. We alone can not grant our own salvation or even condemn ourselves. For God’s love and mercy is greater than our sins. And if we cannot condemn ourselves, then we definitely cannot condemn our neighbors.
Let us humble ourselves and let God sit in his rightful thrown, while we remain in our rightful place, at his feet.
Director of Religious Education
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