Sunday, October 24, 2010

a few more thoughts on the gospel

More thoughts on today's Gospel... When the good Monsignor reads it, it is with such expression - you almost feel like you are there. What's running through my head, as he reads....

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.  Is that me?  Sometimes I think I'm doing a pretty good job of things...I don't despise everyone else... but I know some people who seem to despise most other people... but I don't...does that make me the Pharisee?   

"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collectorThe religiously devout and the outcast.  Which am I?  I go to Mass.  I pray. Am I like the Pharisee?

"The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this pray to himself (so really, he's just talking 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.  Yeah, sometimes my 'prayers' sound a little like that, if I'm honest.  I do the right thing most of the time, Lord.    And I've heard from others so many times, "Well, at least I don't cheat on my wife, I don't steal, and I haven't killed anyone.  Some people  __________.  At least I never did/don't do that!  I'm basically a good person.  I don't know why I need to go to confession when the priest is a sinner, too."

I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.'  Yep, nailed me there.  I go to Mass nearly every day.  I say the Rosary.  I support the church.  I help other people.  I schedule the altar servers.  I don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent.  I'm a Eucharistic Minister (to be).  I'm doing pretty darn good, aren't I Lord?  Better than a lot of people....

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed,  'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'  Whoa - how often does that happen in my life?  On occasion, to be sure.  There have been times, when I catch a glimpse of things as God sees them, and have been overcome with a sense of shame and a certain knowledge of my need for God's mercy.   Once it happened when I was walking across the parking lot at school - of all places.  Other times in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  But other times, I know that I'm a sinner, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not as bad as everyone else.  I mean, I know other people have more stuff that needs confessing than *I* do.  And some of them haven't been in y.e.a.r.s   There's that Pharisee again...or the evil one doing his best to keep me from Confession.  Comparing myself to other people when I should be comparing myself to God and His ways.

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."  Lord, You know I'm trying.  That's one reason I go to confession.  The need to humble myself.  When I say those things aloud - whatever they may be, however they may compare to those around me - when I admit those things to another human, I see how I compare to You, Lord.  I know that I offend He who is all good.  And I am sorry.  More than anything, I don't want to do it again.  But, Lord, without You, I'm not going to make it.  I need You.  O God, have mercy on me a sinner.

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