A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 18:9 – 14 ©
The Gospel of the Day – 2016.10.23
On Pride and Humility
Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous 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 the rest of mankind, 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 at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
Do not be mistaken; both of these people are beloved by God.
God, the creator of the universe; God loves all people, without qualification. God gives to all people without preference.
In the person of the Pharisee, and in the person of the tax collector; there is good and there is evil; both. This is true of everyone. God loves us despite our faults and failings.
The Pharisee was born into the life of a Pharisee, was given the means to live the life he lived. He had some say in how he would handle his inheritance; as we all do, whatever that inheritance might be.
We are each of free to be prideful, or humble regardless of what we do or do not have.
A person who manifests an ugly sense of pride in relation to one aspect of their life, may be loving and humble in another. Do not believe that because you see one side of a person, you have seen everything about them.
The tax collector also inherited his circumstances; perhaps making choices along the way to establish himself in the role he occupied, nevertheless, like all people, his role in his community was partly determined by free will and partly determined by the exigencies of his community life.
A person may have an occupation where they know they are doing harm to others, but cannot walk away from it, because of unseen obligations; to family, to friends, to community. The fact that they are engaged in a sinful occupation does not tell us the whole story of who they are. They may be fierce and aggressive in the pursuit of their duties, and yet come to their prayers with humility and contrition.
Be welcoming to all who come to you. Do not judge them based on the outward expression of their piety, their occupation, their place in society.
We are all of us a mix of good and bad intentions.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time