The good news for the day March 25, 2017
Saturday of the Third Week in Lent (242)
Jesus pointed this story to people convinced of their own goodness who looked down on everybody else. “Two people went up to the area of prayer to pray; one was a leading religious person—a Pharisee—and the other was a despicable tax collector. The Pharisee took up his prominent position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like everybody else — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like that tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay the dutiful money of my whole income to support religion.’ The tax collector, on the contrary, stood towards the back—at a distance; he would not even raise his eyes to heaven but expressed repentance, praying, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I am telling you, this man went home having done what was right—but not the first one; everyone who set themselves above others will be humbled, and everybody who acts more humble will be exalted.” (Luke 18)
The point has several lessons—not to compare ourselves with others when it comes to goodness, and to remember to view ourselves in relation to God alone.
So often we forget that God, the Creator, is our only Standard. That is why yesterday’s “First Commandment” puts it that way. It is not that our Father is a god above other Gods, but that God alone—uniquely—gives any measure or metric to judge our goodness—that patience, that quiet gifting, that emphasis on growth and time, and the intimacy—the closeness—we so easily forget. God in not ourselves; God is not in some competition whether you are better than someone else. God loves you simply. Be repentant and in that turn to our Father, find peace, find rest and joy. Jesus is saying bluntly to act as a servant and brother, a mutual part of the family—and that will “justify” you—you are doing “what is right”—not just obeying laws, not just doing good behavior, and above all not competing with anyone else—but loving and being loved.