Do you pray to yourself, or to God?

The prayer of the Pharisee in the parable told by Jesus is interesting. First, he prays to himself. Think about that phrase for a moment. The Pharisee may address God, but the gospel starts by saying the Pharisee prays to himself. Second, the Pharisee is the best in his own mind. Listen how often his prayer has the word “I” in it. And rather than seeking the grace of God and his mercy and forgiveness, upon which we all rely, he does just the opposite. He makes it a point to tell God how wonderful his is and how awful everyone else is. The one who goes home saved is the publican, the tax collector in the back who knows who he is. A sinner. One in need of God’s mercy. One who knows that even though he does not deserve God’s mercy, he can receive it if he asks with humility. What about you? Do you pray to God, or do you pray to yourself?

Three against two, two against three

There can be a temptation to believe that all in the gospel is about Jesus only talking about peace, how believers will be always feeling calm. The challenge is that there are times when standing up for what is right means standing alone. While Jesus is always with us, it can feel like we are alone when others are against us. But if the choice is standing against evil with Jesus, or seeking peace at all costs, seeking the virtue of courage from the Holy Spirit to stand with Jesus is the most desirable.

A story of Adams

We might not be used to reading the Bible in this way, but with careful notice one can see that often the events of the New Testament are foreshadowed in the Old. Today Saint Paul gives us one of the most common examples, the comparison of the First Adam, who by one act, sinned, causing us all to inherit sin, and the New Adam, Christ, who by one act, redeemed all opening the door to salvation. It serves as a reminder that we should do our best to hear the warning Jesus gives to us in the gospel. We should be awake, on guard, on the watch, so that we can clearly experience the presence of God wherever we find it.

Will there be faith?

It is kind of a pessimistic question Jesus asks at the end of the gospel today. “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Do we think it should be the case that prayer is easy? In both the first reading and the gospel we learn that it takes perseverance. It is hard. And it is something we cannot do on our own. We need, before all else, God’s grace. It is when we come with an openness to God’s grace that prayer can begin. And we need the support of others too. It is why it is so important to come to Mass. Ask for God’s grace. Ask God to help you to pray. (The apostles did.) Open the bible, go to adoration, practice lectio divina, pray the rosary or sit in silence. And pray. It makes all the difference, because you will be reminded you are never alone.

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