He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Sirach tells us “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” The Psalm response echoes this theme: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” And in the gospel, it is the prayer of one who knows himself a sinner that is heard. God accepts the prayer of the tax collector because he acknowledges God as his Lord and Savior. He does not compare himself with anyone else. He does not judge anyone else; only himself.
During this Year of Mercy, we have been challenged to turn to the Lord in prayer much as the parable’s tax collector did, in all humility. And like the tax collector, we have found a God whose love is shown in mercy, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.
—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J. serves as Vice-President for Mission and Identity at Walsh Jesuit High School, Stow, OH.
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy.
May we, who have benefited from your Father’s forgiveness and mercy
be ministers, in turn, of your mercy, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.
Like you, may we bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!