If you are a member of a council, commission, or committee – or are thinking of joining one -- please remember to register by October 30th for the leadership workshop which will be given by Br. Silas Henderson SDS on Saturday morning, November 2, from 9 to 11 in the cafeteria. You can register online at our parish website or by calling the parish during office hours. Please make every effort to take advantage of this opportunity.
This coming weekend is the close of our sister parish collection. If you have not yet contributed, please do so. Envelopes are in the pews or in the parish office.
In our Gospel parable this weekend, Jesus presents two people praying. One is a religious leader, a Pharisee; the other is a tax collector, a public sinner and outcast. In a surprising turnaround for his audience, Jesus declares that the tax collector was the one who went home justified. What happened?
There were a number of problems with the Pharisee’s prayer: first, his prayer was addressed to himself, not God; second, he was disdainful and put down other people, that is, he lacked compassion for others; and, finally, he didn’t recognize any of his own faults. He was proud of himself and snarky toward others. He asked for nothing and he got nothing.
The tax collector, on the other hand, did pray directly to God. He stood off by himself, he wouldn’t raise his head, and he beat his breast. He was humble. He was more in touch with his neediness than was the Pharisee. He asked God directly for mercy and he got what he asked for.
There is a strong message in this parable for those of us who might call ourselves “religious people.” Two things especially make our prayers ineffective: a proud sense of our own righteousness and a contempt or disdain for other people. What is needed is a true sense of humility. A humble person will recognize the faults and failures that (s)he has, while at the same time crediting God for the graces that enable the good. When we realize that the good we do comes from God’s grace and that we are not perfect, we will not be tempted to condemn or put down other people. And then we will truly be forgiven.
A philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, once said, Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prayed. If we are truly praying to God, in all humility like the tax collector, we will be changed; if we pray like the Pharisee, proud of ourselves and disdainful of others, nothing will happen.
Let us approach God daily in prayer, thanking Him for the good that we do and asking forgiveness for our faults, while not condemning or judging others. Then our prayers will truly be prayers directed to God in humility. And let us support each other in prayer.