Oct 24, 2022 • 13M

Humility, Humility, Humility

What is the story of the Pharisee and the Publican telling us

 
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Please note: the podcast and the script below are not the same.

Let us do an exercise with today’s Gospel. Let us not look at it the way Jesus tells the story but let us imagine the story as if we are an observer to it without Jesus’ narrations. Let us also change it to a Catholic environment.

So you have a well-known executive in a company who drove his luxury car to the church and stand over there by the tabernacle.

He is praying and you cannot see what he is saying. You recognize that he is waving his hand toward the Tabernacle and then toward himself. Then he waves his hand in a dismissive manner toward the air. He is prideful

Then you have another man walking in. He has his head down and seems simple in his demeanor. He kneels in the back and he prays with his hat in his hand. He looks over to the confessional and sees that the sacrament is not available but also looks to see the times of confession in the bulletin.

What is your impression of both men?

You can rest assured that the man standing will be highly respected by the community. He will be a model of the way people should act. He may be well known, a leader, running a business, maybe even a major donor to political campaigns or a major commentator in the media.

Literally, he is quoted in magazines, journal articles and more. Maybe he has written a couple books that are bestsellers. Maybe he is the quoted author who has made it and is the model of what people are seeking in this country. I am reminded of a time, I was on my way to somewhere, this was when I did not despise flying and I heard another man saying into his cell phone or something how the boss told them they must have read a certain business book prior to coming to the meeting.

He could be the person everyone fawns over.

Cross him and he will ruin your career, bow before him and he will make you rich and famous.

Imagine that is the man who is standing in front of the tabernacle.

Jesus makes an interesting comment in his story. “He spoke this prayer to himself.” That is what our character in this story does. Is he even capable of knowing God? Probably not. Why because he is so self-focused and he is rewarded for being so. Everyone listens to him for one reason, they want to be rich like him, famous like him, fawned over like him and no one considers anything beyond what he is all about. No one considers what life is like beyond him.

No one sees anything but his version of what life is all about and God is really nothing more than a decoration.

Now let’s look at the other man. He had great plans for his life but life happened. He end up working for the IRS which made him unpopular with his neighbors. He does his job honestly but no one sees this. He has been known to have a few drinks and occasionally a few drinks too many. He tries not to lose his temper but he does. Despite his best efforts, he is not always the person he wants to be.

He had dreams of being a big-time CEO especially when he went through accounting school but that never happened. He found the corporate culture staid and rigid, especially for an accountant. He ended up working for the IRS because he needed a job and they were hiring. He understands finances but he never became the leader he wanted to be.

He is one of a team of IRS agents who answers to his boss and the IRS agency.

His family is good but his wife is sick and his son hates school. His daughter will become a famous actress some day but his son probably will not go to college. He accepts this but the teen has great trouble in school. He is a visual learner and so he can fix any car but cannot spell half the words in English.

He is a man of prayer in fact the whole family prays, they gather for supper every evening and they pray grace before meals. They also do a weekly family rosary. They do not publicize it because in today’s world that is not well accepted.

He and his wife pray always before they go to bed and both read a bible verse and discuss it.

He likes to stop into the Church but really he is a sinner. He sees in front the famous rich man and remembers the days he wanted to be just like him but that door is closed.

However, he is thankful to God for all he has and knows that God is the reason why has what he does.

How do you see both persons in the church at that time? Which one do you want to be?

Remember Jesus says that it is the latter who is justified in the eyes of God and the former prays to himself because he worships himself and so do many who want to be like him.

But how do you see each of them?

And how do you see where you are going in your relationship with God?

This is what Jesus wants us to reflect on. Remember the one who has a need for God is blessed by him but the one who believes God needs him will never know him.

Remember the words of St. Teresa of Avila with humility you can draw the Lord into your heart by a thread.

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