SAVED ‘IN SPITE OF’ NOT ‘BECAUSE OF’
In today’s Gospel, we have a self-righteous pharisee and a sinful tax-collector, who don’t quite behave as we think they should. It is tempting to see the pharisee as sinful and the tax collector as the good guy, but this is to miss the whole point of the parable, because then each person gets what they deserve.
But one of the favorite lessons of Luke is how Jesus turns everything around, and believe me, this parable would have come as quite a shock to those who heard it.
It doesn’t matter how many devotions you pray, how much good you do, how many times you go to Mass or confession or anything of the sort. All of those things are an external. What matters is why you do those things. That is to say one good confession at the end of one’s life could mean more than an entire life of piety. The rosary you pray in church does very little good if you yell at people in the parking lot on the way out.
This is hard because we want to pay our own way. We want to be independent – but we can’t and we aren’t.
When we elevate ourselves and justify ourselves – we are the ones who divide us. When we try to control more than we should. When we hold on too tightly to the externals, and keep people out, we separate ourselves.
It is all about our attitude. No action brings about justification. What each person receives in “in spite of” not “because of”.
CLICK HERE for the Readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: (Sirach 35:15-17, 20-22; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14)