BEADS OF JOY 3-17-12 “O God, Be Merciful To Me”
©2012 James Dacey, Jr. OFS
Lenten Season – Day 22
For starters Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody. Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day. Be safe and have fun today. Praise you Jesus, for sharing the exciting joy and wisdom you capture in your parables. My favorite studies and the most joy I have when studying scripture is when I come upon a parable. These gems of wisdom are so exciting; I see a parable with an infinite amount of wisdom that changes with us, depending on where we are in our lives. Today we are reading Luke 18:9-14 (The Parable of the Pharisee and The Tax Collector). The beauty of a parable is that we can see it in different ways at different times. Take for instance a tree! Yes I said a tree, there are times the leaves catch our eyes, maybe it's their colors or their size; other times we notice the branches and maybe how bold or thick they are; and still other times we see the roots, because they are out of the ground and they are huge and beautiful. I can go on and on, just with the tree example, you see what I mean. And in the end, it's still the same tree.
These two men both went to pray before God; and they both came from two completely different classes of people. Yet in God's eyes they are equal to Him. It is the character and words used by each of them that changes the depths of their sinfulness. The big changer here is how they viewed themselves before God. The Pharisee was arrogant and selfish, while being very judgmental about the tax collector. Yet the tax collector was very humble and ashamed; never pointing a finger of judgment at anyone except himself. We can learn so much from this parable. Fr Larry Richards once said, "Jesus Christ commanded us to love, but He Forbid us !, He Forbid us !, He Forbid us ! to judge." He was very clear when he expressed that to us. We must never ever judge anyone for anything. I will be the first to confess before everyone here that I indeed judge, when it comes to politicians and politics. Right here and right now I beg my Lord for His forgiveness for that, as I ask my brothers and sisters to also forgive my arrogance and anger that I share about politics. I promise I will in the future, I will try my best to tame it down and be much kinder in my words. Please feel free to yell at me if I drift, seriously. Thank you!!
In this parable, the Pharisees quickly assumed and judged the tax collector, who was with him; while what appears to be the Pharisee praying to himself. He seemed to be so consumed in his own pride and how he wanted God to perceive him; that lashing out at the tax collector in his words to God made him feel good about himself. This Pharisee used many words, in a most self-righteous way. While the tax collector bowed his head in shame, not even feeling worthy before God to even speak. The tax collector knew his sin separated himself from God; his humility and guilt showed God how sorry he was for his sins. We have a merciful, loving God, a God who by His own words created all things; a God who clearly tells us that our sins separate us from Him. We must be humble, and aware of our own offenses towards God. Let us keep this scripture in mind when we judge others, "You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written:'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." Romans 14:10-12.
What can we do? How can we integrate this lesson into our own lives? For starters let us understand the seriousness of our sins and how sin is really offensive to God. We must remember God created mankind to love Him and our neighbor before anything. Adam and Eve found independence in their own free will, and in doing so; they created a wall of shame by putting sin between man and woman and between mankind and God. So through God's love for us, he had to defeat death brought upon us by our sins, by sacrificing His only Son. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. So Jesus took the heat, and suffered the death penalty for all of us. He died for our sins. "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24. Our sins are a direct offense and in some ways a deliberate offense against the very blood Jesus has shed. We need to keep that in mind every single time we knowingly sin. The worst sin of all, is that while we know in full knowledge it's sin, we still in complete consent of the will, sin anyway. How horrible and serious that truly is. Let us always ask for forgiveness, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.
Today's Challenge: Let us learn from this. By approaching God with our head held down not up. Pride and arrogance do nothing for our confession, only shame and humility knowing we are unworthy of forgiveness. Let us begin, by being more humble and ashamed of our sins before God; because honestly who are we to be prideful and proud of our sins, or anything we have done right. Jesus paid the price, just look at He who has died for us.
Your brother in Christ Jesus & His Most Blessed Mother,
Jim (The Rosary Man) Dacey Jr OFS