October 27, 2019 - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“…for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk 18:14
Again this week we examine our life of prayer. The important lessons that we are learning this Sunday are that God does not have favorites, He loves all and treats all fairly. Everyone is important to God. God listens to those who are humble and hears prayers of people in need.
Are we praying? Is prayer a part of our life all day every day? Are we only praying when things are bad, or are we praising God for the good things too? And what is our heart like when we pray? Do we stand before God in honesty of who we are and what we have done? Do we know in our hearts that we cannot do anything without God?
In the Gospel reading two men went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee thanked God that he wasn’t like the rest of humanity, especially that tax collector…he was not greedy or dishonest and he tithed all his income. The tax collector would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
We may have a time deciding which one of these men is worse! The Pharisee isn’t sinister…he did all the things he said. It may be that most of us are more like the Pharisee than the tax collector when it comes down to actual sins committed. His sin is not his arrogance, but his self-reliant attitude. He defines himself by what he does (“fast” “pray” “tithe”). The Pharisee perhaps does not see that he requires forgiveness for sins whereas the tax collector is humble enough to believe he can be forgiven for very real sins.
Humbling ourselves means we see ourselves honestly before God and believe that we are not worthless, evil beings, that we are created by God and each one of us is precious to God. We see ourselves as neither better or worse than others and we see ourselves as dependent on God who is our Creator, Redeemer and life-giving Spirit. If we focus on who and what we really are and stand before God in our prayers, naked in that truth, we are indeed humbling ourselves and abandoning ourselves to His truth, His way and His life.
We must BELIEVE that God forgives our sins. We must BELIEVE that God created us and we are GOOD! We must BELIEVE that God grants salvation freely. Salvation isn’t a reward for having less sins than someone else as the Pharisee might have believed. The simple humbleness of the tax collector “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” says so much when it comes from a heart that loves God and trusts in God’s forgiveness and salvation!
Our Psalm this week is #34 The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Have a blessed week! Pray often…be humble…love God for creating us in His image, and for His salvation!