- Sr Siobhán
'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'
Saturday Third Week of Lent
Reading Luke 18: 9 – 14
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt. Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like the other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax collector, standing
far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’ Reflection
In this reading we are reminded once more of the mercy and compassion of God to the humble of heart and His response to those who do not see their need of God. Jesus challenges the Pharisee, who sees himself as righteous but who is sadly lacking in self-knowledge; however, He does not leave it there. In prayer, I am prompted to reflect on any hypocritical attitudes in my own life so that I may be converted and healed. I am reminded that there is no virtue in going to the temple to pray if I am not living in right relationship with my neighbour or if I am not just in my dealings with others. I am called to return to God with a humble and contrite heart and to ask for his mercy and forgiveness for the hidden as well as the obvious sins that weigh upon my heartI am invited to deepen my trust in his mercy so that no sin can ever separate me from his great love. Through the power of His Holy Spirit I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist when He prays,
‘Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.’ (Psalm 51: 1-2)
I am reminded of God’s call to genuine mercy and authentic sacrifice;
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
In the parable, the tax collector, conscious of his own sin kept his distance and begged for mercy. Our compassionate Father reached down to him, embraced him in love and freed him of the burden that separated him from God. Filled with deep inner peace, he returned to his home and may hav shared his good news with his next of kin. I too am invited back to the heart of my Father when I acknowledge my sin, ask for mercy and desire through the power of His Holy Spirit to live a righteous life and in so doing, draw other people to God.
God our Father I thank you for your mercy and love. Through the power of your grace may I know myself as you know me.
Fill me with your grace and courage
so that I may return to you in all humility of heart; forgive me for my faults and send me forth
to live an authentic, Christian life and draw ever closer to you. Amen.