Friday, March 13, 2015

With whom do you identify yourself more — the Pharisee or the publican? - Daily Reflections March 15,2015

If Lent is like the school year, it has two semesters in it. Today we arrive at the last day of Lent’s first semester. Starting next week, a different spirit will characterize the Lenten Masses. But for today, the readings once again focus on a basic spiritual truth: that a life of humble service pleases God.
         In today’s Gospel, God heard the prayer of the sinful publican and not that of the Pharisee. This famous parable of Jesus gives us a lesson on what genuine or authentic religion is. According to our Responsorial Psalm (an echo of the last verse of the First Reading), “It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.”
         God knows what He wants — He knows a good thing when He sees it. He can see what’s inside the deepest recesses of our hearts. Externals do not really catch His attention.
        As we often find in the Gospels, the Pharisee again is on the negative side. In stark contrast to him is the miserable, sinful yet humble publican. In the end, the Publican is the one who is justified in God’s eyes and made righteous by Him. No self-aggrandizement, no boasting of achievements, no bragging at the expense of others, will make us holy in God’s eyes. He alone justifies us, simply through His unfailing mercy.
         God may even indict us for our merely shallow religiosity, as in the words of Hosea in the First Reading: “Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away.” He wants something deeper and more substantial: “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
         We had better learn these lessons from the school of Lent. Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB
REFLECTION QUESTION: With whom do you identify yourself more — the Pharisee or the publican?
In front of Your majesty, Lord, I am nothing. Have mercy on me, Your humble servant.

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