Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
These days, the Lord is speaking to us through a series of parables. Today’s parable was given by Jesus to those who considered themselves righteous and detested others. This also happens to be one of my favourites.
Jesus contextualizes this parable in a temple. Two people came to pray: a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee, instead of praying, started to boast about his righteousness, fasting and tithing. In stark contrast to the Pharisee stood the tax collector – far off, bowed down, beating his breast and asking for God’s mercy because he was a sinner. Jesus tells us very clearly that it was the tax collector who went home justified before God, not the Pharisee.
The tax collector was justified not because of any good works or penance. He was justified because he humbled himself before God and accepted his sinfulness. The Lord who sees the heart (1 Sam 16:7) showed mercy and the tax collector stood justified before God. For the Lord does not despise a contrite heart (Ps 51:17).While the Pharisee put his trust on his own works, the tax collector put his trust on the Lord’s mercy. Asking pardon is one of the best methods of prayer. For the Lord is ever ready to bless us. In deed He is bestowing plenitude of graces on us on a daily basis. But it is our sins that block these blessings freely bestowed by God (Is 59:1-2). Once we ask God’s pardon, these walls of sin are broken and God’s graces saturate our life and being.
Today, let us ask ourselves about how we pray? Do I heap up empty words or boast about the little things that I have done? Or do I come before God aware of His majesty and my sinfulness? If you want to stand justified, you better humble yourself like the tax collector. It would be a wonderful practice to stand before God each night like the tax collector. With an examination of conscience, accepting our sins that day and seeking God’s pardon we can sleep in peace justified before God. Who knows when we wake we may find ourselves before God and ask to render an account for our life!