THEME: RUN AWAY FROM SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS
(Sirach 35:15-17,20-22; 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18; Luke 18:9-14)
The theme of prayer is continued and humility is presented as another ingredient of effective prayer. God hears our prayers when we approach him with humility.
Jesus told a parable to his listeners, the Disciples to be precise. Two men went to the temple to pray, the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee came to the temple went to this sitting position and started his prayer in this manner. “Lord I thank you, for you know that I’m not like the rest other men, I pay tax and tithe always, I fast two time a week, I am not a fornicator and I’m not an adulterer, I don’t even behave like this man here, referring to the tax collector”. And after praying he left. And a tax collector came and couldn’t look up to heaven, but he said “O Lord have mercy on me, a sinner”. And the bible said, the Pharisee went home without being justified, but the tax collector was justified. And Jesus concluded by saying, he/she who humbles himself/herself will be exalted, and who exalts himself/herself will be humbled.
Do we in any way behave like the Pharisee? Tending to despise others and judge others? Jesus told this parable to us today for 4 (four) main reasons:
- Against judging others 2. Against self righteousness 3. Against pride 4 To encourage humility in prayer
Let us be reminded that none of us, no human being has the right to judge. Judgment belongs to God alone; instead of despising and judging others, let us go inward and tell ourselves simple truth. What we are condemning others for, do we do the same? The word of God in (Romans 2: 1, 2 & 3), there the scripture say, ‘you who judge and condemn others, you will not run away from God’s judgment if you do the same for which you condemned them for’. (Psalm 50:6; Isaiah 33:22), the bible said “God himself is the judge”. Why do we judge and condemn others when we know that at the last day we all shall stand before the judgment seat of God. (Hebrew 10:30) the scripture said, “leave vengeance for me for I will repair everyone, because the Lord will judge all the peoples.”
It must be pointed out that the Jesus did not make the tax collector a model because of his sinfulness; neither did he condemn the Pharisee for his piety. This is important because people use stories like this to justify their sinful practices and condemn those who make effort to keep the laws of God. The tax collector’s prayer is what should be emulated and not his life of extortion. His prayer is an acknowledgement of his dependence on God’s mercy. While the Pharisee gave God a list of the “good things” and rituals he has habitually done, the tax collector presented himself as a candidate for divine mercy. The Pharisee spent his time condemning the sins of others, especially the sins of the tax collector; while the tax collector continued to say (Be merciful to me).
Keep away from self righteousness; don’t be proud in heart for it is an abomination before the Lord. Condemn the bad act and encourage the sinner; correct and not condemn or judge. Be humble before God and not justify yourself. Humility is sanity and pride is madness. May God give us the grace of a humble heart.