Reflection for Saturday, 21 March, 2020 LK 18:9-14

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,

“The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.’”

This Pharisee expresses the opposite of solidarity with the rest of humanity. He prides himself in his freedom from certain sins and expresses contempt for those who practice them. While we do try to keep ourselves separated from sin, we do not thereby justify ourselves in looking down upon other sinners. The Pharisee’s pride is on full display, so we know he is not innocent. Likewise, we know our own sins better than anyone. If we are being honest, we ought to look up, not down. We are on the bottom, along with all of humanity, in need of our Savior above!

The Pharisee prayed to himself, knowing nothing greater than himself; he had made himself god of his pitifully small universe. We, in contrast, acknowledge our smallness and helplessness. We ought to pray like the tax collector: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ And, lest we fall into the same trap as the Pharisee, we ought to offer a prayer for him, too! We cry out together to God as we walk through this “vale of tears” and lift each other up to Him. Only the Just One can justify us, and we all need His help.

Peace in Christ,

Father Matthew Kuhn

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