for Sunday, October 28, 2007
As with the readings from last weekendís liturgy, prayer can seem to be centered around getting what we want while giving the impression that everything God gives us is gift. The first person in the parable happens to be a Pharisee and he gets up close and personal with God and prays to himself! He spends quite a bit of time being grateful that he is not like the rest of humanity who are greedy, dishonest and adulterous, and he is thankful that he
is not like this tax collector standing in the back of the temple. He then recites and recalls how he does the rituals of fasting and tithing. He has all the tickets in his hands. He is all dressed up in a pretense of piety.
Then we have then a tax collector who stands at a safe distance from God and is dressed only in his suit of sinfulness, but he knows it! He prays, not to himself, but to God and with words reflecting his naked truth.
When Saint Peter, the first to be called, came close to Jesus and asked Jesus to depart, because he, Peter, was a sinful man. Jesus didnít deny that truth, but didnít deny either Jesusí call to follow Him in his sinful suit.
Here, in this parable, the theme stays firm. Jesus does send the tax collector out of the temple while the Pharisee seems to stay there preening himself. Jesus is catching the attention of both the selfrighteous and the self-condemning. Jesus is blessing the truth, but obviously not the sin. He is challenging the external formalities and
encouraging interior reception of the Christcentered righteousness.
Rituals, religious practices, external actions are blest when they flow from the truthful insides. This week the Church will celebrate the feast of All Saints. The eve before is known in North American elsewhere, as Halloween. There is a wonderful relationship between these two celebrations. On the day before All Saints, there is much of putting on masks and costumes. There is much of pretending and covering up true identities. The next day we
celebrate those women and men who grew out of and past the necessity of masks, costumes and pretenses.
The Pharisee remained recounting how he has blest himself. He seems to be enthralled with his finery and he thinks God is too. The tax collector has even put aside his uniform or definition and has been exalted by his being humble before his creator and redeemer. It is not easy for us to take off the masks and trappings of pretense. It is easier to sit down and admire ourselves exaltedly. The going forth, back home is even more joyful and easy and
than drag around our self-important deeds and thereby never know the freeing touch of Jesus.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: