A priest had given a moving homily on today’s Gospel, about the proud pharisee and the humble tax collector. Everybody was impressed, especially Joe Brown who developed a dislike for the pharisee or anybody who would brag: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men.” Right after Mass Joe shook hands with his pastor and told him: “Good homily father.” Then he added: “Thank God, I am not like that pharisee.” Joe did not realize it but he was committing the same sin of pride, the sin of considering himself better than someone else. Isn’t that how many of us react to this story? We congratulate ourselves that we do not brag like the pharisee: we pat ourselves on the back that we are the sinner as king for mercy and at the same time we think we are better than others. That reaction is the very fault Christ is warning against. Christ does not condemn the pharisee for what he has done A, but for boasting about it. Neither does Jesus say the pharisee has done no good at all. Most of us feel more comfortable with the tax collector. He is a sinner; so are we. He was sorry for his sins; so are we. He asked God to have mercy on him; so do we. May the prayer of the tax collector be the prayer of all of us: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” We have to imitate the tax collector in his spirit of sorrow for sin. God bless you!
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Leo Antony, SDV
St. Gerard Majella RC Church
501 West Broadway – Paterson, NJ 07522