that I am not like other people, grasping, crooked, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. I
fast twice a week, and give a tenth of all my income to the temple.’
In the meantime the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but
beat his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’
I tell you, when this man went back to his house, he had been reconciled with God, but not
the other. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles
himself will be raised up.” “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
The book of Sirach declaresthat whereas God is impartial, the prayers of the humble have a
way of claiming God’s attention. Paul declares that he has fought the good fight, finished the
race, and kept the faith; and God will reward him. Through the parable on prayer, Jesus
declares that God hears the prayer of the humble.
The Pharisee’s prayer is one of comparative triumphalism. His prayer was not heard, because
his was not a prayer; but a self-parading. In contrast, the tax collector presents himself before
God with a sense of embarrassment. Beating his breast, he acknowledges his sinfulness and
pleads for mercy. His was a true prayer and hence, was heard. Listening to Paul’s words
(second reading), one might wonder if he isn’t doing a Pharisee, boasting of himself. Not so,
because, Paul goes on to state that all of them was possible because “the Lord was at my side,
giving me strength.” Thus, essentially, his boasting is a boasting in the Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 1:31).
Delighting in God’s doing in us is an act of humility as well—as we see in Mary’s Magnificat.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me” (‘Jesus Prayer’)
Make a good confession this week.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2022