SATURDAY, THIRD WEEK OF LENT
Reading 1: Hos 5:15 – 6:6 God pleads with his people to return to him: “It is love I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.”
Gospel: Lk 18: 9-14 Luke relates the famous contrast between the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble publican who realizes he is a sinner and begs God for mercy.
HOW TO PRAY?
Jesus, through prayer, lived so united to the Father that everything he said and did became an expression of this divine union. In the Gospel of today, in order to teach us to pray, he tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Two men went up to the Temple to pray: one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.
According to popular opinion at that time, the tax collectors were not esteemed at all, and they could not dare to present themselves before God because they were impure. In the parable, the Pharisee thanks God because he is better than others. His prayer is nothing other than a praise of himself, an exaltation of his righteousness, and a contempt for others, especially for the tax collector standing a few meters away in the same house of God. On his part, the tax collector does not even raise his eyes, but beats his breast in sorrow and says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He stands before God as he is, in all his unworthiness.
If Jesus had allowed people to express their opinion and say which of the two went home justified, all would have answered, “the Pharisee!” At that time, this was the common opinion. Jesus saw things differently. He saw something positive in the tax collector, of whom everybody said, “He does not know how to pray.” For Jesus, he was the one who returned home justified, and repaired his relationship with God.
The whole life of Jesus was one of constant prayer. In order to be faithful to the Father’s plan, Jesus sought to take time to be alone in order to listen to him. He prayed often and urged his disciples and listeners to do the same, because, from these moments of union with God springs truth, and one is able to acknowledge the reality of one’s nature in all humility, and discover the uniqueness of one’s personal mission contained in the will of God revealed with each passing day.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 51: 3-4, 18-21 I desire steadfast love, and not sacrifice.
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