The good news for the day October 23
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (150)
Jesus addressed this telling story to everyone convinced of their own righteousness—who look down on other people. “Two people went into their shrine for prayer; one was a religious leader–a Pharisee–and the other was a disreputable tax collector. The religious one standing up—to himself spoke this kind of prayer: ‘O God, I am grateful to you that I am not like other people — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this—this!—tax collector. Twice a week I fast, and I give a tenth of my income to charity and religion.’ The tax collector, though, standing off in an alcove would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and prayed like this, ‘O God, have mercy on me—a sinner!’ I am telling you—this second one went back home close to God, and not the first one! The truth is: people thinking self-praise will be humbled, and people thinking more modestly about themselves will find a higher place.” (Luke 18)
This story speaks for itself. It is not about how we appear to others—or it is—in a way. A Pharisee was respected, obeyed and distinctive. Religious leaders earn respect because of their office and ordination, their commitment to their community’s tenets and rules, and their career in public as preachers about God. They do honorable practices—like fasting, self-denial, tithing and involvement with charity.
But inside? Inside, you might see a different soul—a superiority-person with power to control others, a feeling of being above others—above criticism or disagreement. It becomes easy to “look down on others.”
You and I—committed to following Jesus—have that tendency—to struggle against. We like to think we are superior, gooder, greater, nobler. But we are not. You and I need to find that alcove in our hearts, that quiet closet where you admit you are like everybody else—a sinner who blunders, sins and wanders—but admits it—and finds in God a Father who loves you, no matter what. Closeness to God is not what you do in public, but how much you love—not conforming, but caring for—serving—others.