May the Peace of Christ Reign in our Hearts
The Gospel today is not difficult to understand.
The is story line is simple
There are two men both in the Synagogue
Both recognize that there is a God
Both realize that God is important to their lives
Both of them are there to pray.
That’s where the similarities end
The Pharisee prays in the front of the synagogue (He took his place)
It appears that he is praying as much to be heard by others
as he is praying to be heard by God
He is not a bad person
He follows all the rules
He lives well
He prays regularly
But sadly he is going through the motions
His love and his worship is not free it is not authentic
His motivation seems to be heard and respected
He is doing what is right for the wrong reason.
And what is most tragic is that
he doesn’t even see it so he can’t fix it.
And on top of his own sinfulness brokenness
He is quick to point out the faults of others…
“Like that tax collector over there”
The Tax collector…..
Is not a holy man
He is working for the Roman occupiers
He probably has done his fair share of extortion
He has probably done some pretty horrible things.
He is a mess
Yet He knows he’s a sinner..
Maybe be is trying to change and just can’t
Maybe it was a moment of grace a moment of hope when he was praying in the Synagogue
It would seem that way because his sincerity is acknowledged
And his sin is forgiven.
This parable is so important to us
Because if we just found someone outside the Church
And told them this parable
I fear that some would compare us as a church and many of us as individually to the Pharisee rather than the tax collector.
This parable should give us pause
It should cause us to stop and think
The Church is for sinners not saints
In other words it is important to remember that
we are sinners not saints
How often do we allow thoughts
of superiority to slip into our consciousness
We should not be quick to condemn
We should be quick to welcome sinners humbly
We should be quick to give good example and call others to holiness.
This gospel is important to us because…
We are either the tax collector or the Pharisee
Jesus doesn’t give us any other choices.
There are only two possibilities
One leads to salvation the other doesn’t
Do we have the sin of the Pharisee
Do we look down on people who don’t fit our mold
or image of what holiness is?
Do we go through the motions
- Going to church
- Tithing putting a couple of buck in the collection
- Going to Renew…
- Going on retreats
Do we do all those things for the wrong reasons
- To be seen
- To be noticed
- So that people will think well of us
- Is our love free?
What is our real motivation for doing good?
Are we like the poor tax collector who knows that he is a sinner
Who knows that he is a mess and just can’t seem to get his act together
Are we like the tax collector who doesn’t compare himself to anyone else
But who humbly seeks the forgiveness of God
Granted we may be the tax collector one day and the pharisee the next
But when we average it all out
Where do we fall
Which one of these are we the most of the time
A very important question indeed…
This parable also has very important implications for us as a church
I am not important enough to speak for the whole church
But I can speak about the Church here on our Campus
How do people who are not active Catholics
see us perceive us...
As the Pharisee or the Tax Collector ?
Is there hint of arrogance or pride
in the way we relate to our friends, our professors the staff?
Do we look down on others who live lives contrary to the gospel
and feel we are better?
Do we the active Catholics on campus do good things to be seen or appreciated.?
Yes love calls us to challenge each other to live good lives.
Loves begs us to call out to our brothers and sisters who have not found salvation.
Love does not
will not ever permit us to think that we are better than anyone else.
We all need conversion
We all have our sins
I stand before you and tell you that I am a sinner
And I am not pround of it
I have so much to work on
And I consider myself worse off than the majority of you
because I’m 52 years old and should know better.
Our bible studies
Our service trips
Are filled with sinners run by sinners for sinners.
That’s the truth plain and simple
The prayer of the Tax collector
Have mercy on me a sinner should be on all of our lips and written on
all of our hearts constantly
Let us be humble servants of God’s word
Let our love and our service and our prayer be free
Let it be sincere
Let it be constant unwavering
Let us not expect anything thing in return for the good lives we live
The tax collector’s prayers were answered
His example challenges us
The Pharisee was a poor soul indeed.
Which one are we individually
Which one are we as the Church on our campus