|Publican & Pharisee|
Two men went up to pray, One was a Pharisee, a respected member of his religious community; one who did all the right things - externally. And yet, when he stands before God, he stands before a mirror. Because, if you noticed, the Gospel says to us “and he prayed to himself thus.” So he wasn't praying to God - he was justifying himself. He was justifying his own existence. He was trying to make himself look good, He was trying to convince himself that he was superior to others, and why did he do that? Simply out of pride. Often we try to convince ourselves that we are something beyond what we are, not only because of pride, but often because we don't have what is good and fruitful self-esteem.
The other man in the parable is a tax collector. He was an outcast, the Jewish community considered him a traitor. Now, this tax collector goes up and prays; and he doesn't stand at all close to the altar, He stands far away. Then he beats his breast and he wouldn't even look toward the heavens. He doesn't have to convince himself of anything because he knows who he is; and so he talks to God. And he asks God, out of the sincerity of his heart, a simple request that is intimately related to how he sees himself. He says, "Lord God, have mercy upon me a sinner.”
So, to stand like the tax collector before God (but not to stand there trying to convince ourselves we're something we're not) is the hardest thing to do in life - it's easy to say, but it's the hardest thing to do. And what should you say when you stand before God? Say what the prophets of the Old Testament always said to God who called them by name, "Here I am, Lord!"
Reading courtesy of Fr. Dimitri Tsakas, parish of St. George, Greek Archdiocese of Australia
The Gospel lesson offered for this week is a story of humility vs. pride. It helps prepare us for our journey during Great Lent towards the Resurrection of Christ. The Saints of the Church are our personal examples of those who have "fought the good fight" in order to attain salvation. Hopefully, we can use this Gospel lesson in our daily struggles to keep remembrances of our own sinful nature and offer prayers to our loving and forgiving God, instead of eyes and hearts filled with judgment towards others.
- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director