Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Luke 18,9-14

He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being upright and despised everyone else, 'Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, "I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get." The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.'

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Jesus often talks to his disciples about the importance of prayer. Above all, he gives them an example: the evangelists often depict Jesus in prayer. And he talks about it often: he exhorts them to persevere in prayer and to have faith in God, who always listens and responds. Today's parable condemns the presumption of those who come to the temple to pray and believe themselves righteous. Humility is an indispensable part of praying to the Father who is in heaven. Indeed, it is easy to present ourselves to the Lord with the attitude of the Pharisee, who presumes he is righteous. It is harder to consider ourselves sinners in need of forgiveness and mercy. With this parable, Jesus warns us that pride and presumption push us to trust more in ourselves than in God and, what is worse, push us to judge other people harshly and despise them. Full of himself, the Pharisee goes up to the temple to praise himself before God. Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector, despite being well off and feared by the people because of his profession, feels that he needs help and mercy. Consequently, he goes up to the temple not to insist on his rights, but to ask for help. In this case, he is more like to a beggar who asks for forgiveness than a rich person who wants to demonstrate his goodness. Jesus clearly affirms that the latter is forgiven, because he does not trust in himself, his works, his possessions, or his reputation, but only in God. On the contrary, the Pharisee, full of himself and satisfied with his works, goes back empty handed. How often in our lives do we behave like the Pharisee! Let us think of how much trouble we have recognizing our sins. Instead we are experts at judging the evil in others. The evangelical paradox is clear: those who lift themselves will be humiliated and those who humble themselves will be exalted. The psalmist sings, "Those who are poor seek the Lord." Let us learn humility, which is the way to encounter God, instead of lifting ourselves up above others and setting ourselves up as disdainful judges, believing ourselves better. The tax collector shows us the way to present ourselves to God: we must recognize that we are sinners and come to Him to ask for mercy and forgiveness.