PRAYING TO GOD OR SELF?
Believe me, this man went home from the temple justified but the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled while he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” –Luke 18:14
The Pharisee in today’s Gospel reading was not humble but self-centered. When he prayed, he “prayed to himself” (Lk 18:11, our transl) and talked more about himself than about God. Also, the Pharisee focused his prayer on himself by favorably comparing himself with a tax-collector praying in the back of the Temple (Lk 18:11).
The Pharisee was destroying himself by his addiction to self because he was one of those “relying on themselves that they are righteous and despising others” (Lk 18:9, our transl). When we rely on ourselves, we will be unforgiving towards others, for “to err is human, to forgive is divine.” Only those relying on God’s power can forgive. Those relying on their own power cannot forgive. When we don’t forgive, we ourselves are not forgiven, for the Lord told us to pray to be forgiven as we forgive those who sin against us (Mt 6:12). When we don’t receive God’s forgiveness, we don’t see Him as our loving Abba. Under these circumstances, we naturally tend to pray to ourselves rather than to God. Of course, this kind of prayer is meaningless at best. We may as well just stop praying – which many people have done. Our only hope of escaping from this damning dilemma is to repent of relying on ourselves and to give our lives totally to Christ.
PRAYER: Father, I give my heart to You so I can pray to You.
PROMISE: “He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that waters the earth.” –Hos 6:3
PRAISE: On a Marriage Encounter weekend, Marge heard and received the message that God truly loved her. To the joy of her Catholic husband, she was filled with a desire to become a Catholic herself. They now receive the Eucharist side-by-side as a witness to their unity in Jesus.