Jesus told another parable to some persons fully convinced of their own righteousness, who looked down on others: «Two men went up to the Temple to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and said: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people, grasping, crooked, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give the tenth of all my income to the Temple’. In the meantime the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying: ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner’. I tell you, when this man went down to his house, he had been set right with God, but not the other. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised».
We give lot of importance to what we do and sometime in our culpability accuse ourselves of not doing what is to be done. Though this approach can be appreciated with certain moderation, what is important is not doing or not doing, but simply ‘BEING’, because everything, (thinking and doing) springs from this being. It is in this being we realize in us the necessity to remain connected to the divine and it is in this very configuration in Christ that we will discover our own human nature.
God in His goodness helps us to participate in Him, through our thinking and doing. Thus, be the divine grace, knowingly or unknowingly we will be accomplishing the divine will, not by doing what is pleasing to us, or doing what is just and good, rather we continue to be good (in thinking and doing), because, we can’t be otherwise. The more we are connected to God, the better will be our humility, because this humility is in truth and in spirit.
Once we reach to this state of life, we recognize the divine goodness and accept in our humility our sins and unfaithfulness. It is here we ask pardon and mercy. If we keep asking pardon for the same sin of the past, then we haven’t understood or tasted the divine mercy. God forgives once and for all, and we are called to reborn and start to live this life, to its fulness, not in comparison with others’ rather in relation with God and to our own call.
Action of the day: Know your God and live your life in love.
«Whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised»
Fr. David COMPTE i Verdaguer
(Manlleu, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, in the midst of an image centered culture, this Gospel has a profound meaning. But let's take it one step at a time.
In the passage we are contemplating we see that in each person we can find a knot made of three strings. These three strings cannot be untangled unless each is taken into consideration at the same time. The first string relates to God; the second one to our fellowmen; and the third one to ourselves. Let us look carefully: those Jesus was addressing were «persons fully convinced of their own righteousness, who looked down on others» (Lk 18:9) but who, therefore, were not praying rightly. The three strings are always related to each other!
How can we properly put these relations into the right perspective? Which is the secret of untying that knot? The final conclusion of the sharp parable reveals it: humility. Saint Therese of Avila said it too: «Humility is truth».
It is true, though: humility allows us to recognize our own truth. Neither to swell with pride and vainglory nor to undermind us. Humility allows us to accept the gifts we receive from God as such, and to present him with our daily chores. Humility also allows us to recognize the qualities of our fellowmen. And even to be happy to discover them out.
Last but not least, a sense of humility must also be fundamental in our personal relationship with God. We must remember that, in Jesus' parable, the Pharisee lived a most righteous life; with his weekly religious practices and acts of charity! But he is not humble and that spoils all his other acts.
We are getting close to Holy Week. Soon we shall contemplate —once more!— Christ on the Cross: «Our Lord crucified is an unsurpassable testimony of patient loving and of humble meekness» (John Paul II). There, we shall see how, before Dimas' pleading —«Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom» (Lk 23:42)— the Lord responds with a “sudden canonization” without any precedent: «I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise» (Lk 23:43). That personage was a murderer who, before dying, was finally canonized by the very same Christ. It was a case hitherto unheard, for us, a consolation...: sanctity is not “manufactured” by us, but granted by God, if He finds our heart to be humble and converted.