Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Praised be Jesus Christ!
As Christians, we can be very good in convincing ourselves that we are “good enough” and will easily be able to enter into Paradise. We think that because we go to Mass, pray, protect the environment, and are generally decent people, we will be able to get right into paradise.
However, that is not the case. We need the mercy of Christ in order to enter into Eternal Life. The Catechism teaches that “since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves” (CCC 588). In other words, we need to rely on God’s mercy to enter Heaven. Each time we wake up in the morning, we are faced with a choice. We have the choice to spend our day like the Pharisee who walks around telling everyone how good and how holy he is, or we can wake up in the morning, recognizing our sinfulness, and spend our day like the tax collector, asking God for mercy and forgiveness. When we acknowledge our sinfulness, we are also expressing our reliance on God for our salvation.
Let us pray that we can spend our days like the humble tax collector — aware of our need for God’s mercy — so that the Lord hears our prayers (cf. Sirach 35:17) for mercy and bring us with Him into Eternal Life.
As always, know of my prayers before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.