There are moments when a homily cuts to the heart. It might not even be the whole homily, but something as small as a single sentence. That happened for me this morning at Mass.
The gospel for Mass today was the familiar parable about the pharisee and the tax collector. Like many, I always thought clearly about the parable. The pharisee was self-righteous and the tax collector went home justified. The pharisee was the bad guy, the tax collector the good guy.
But, as it was pointed out in the homily, when I do that, when I judge the pharisee, am I not in fact acting in the same way as the pharisee? And by judging the Pharisee, am I not really failing to see myself in this parable as the one who is self-righteous?
As I think about things, there are many ways that I engage in this type of judging. Time and again I make assumptions about others. I think I know why they do things the way they do. I think I know what they think. And while I can certainly see people I think are holier than I am, all too often I can look down upon others and not think carefully about my sins and my failings.
Jesus warns us about this type of attitude, and not just in this parable. Consider the time he discusses when someone focuses on the speck in another person’s eye while missing the plank in their own. I know I do that.
Lent has a two-fold purpose. It is to help us to grow deeper in our love for God and for our neighbor. And that means realizing that wherever we are, we are in this together.
Let us pray.
Dear Jesus, You suffered and died for my sins. My sins. My failures. And yet too often I focus on other people’s sins and other people’s failures. Yet, when I turn toward you, seeking your forgiveness for my sins, it is then that I can see more clearly the ways in which you call me to be more like you. Help me to see more clearly your presence in my life. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Music: Cheezy Piano Medley by Alexander Nakarada