“The other man, however, kept his distance, not even daring to raise his eyes to heaven.” –Luke 18:13
The humble tax collector in today’s Gospel passage did not presume he was worthy to approach God. He saw his position in relation to God correctly and realized his only option was to throw himself upon the mercy of God. He hoped in God; otherwise he would not have entered the Temple to pray, but knowing his unworthiness he remained at a distance. Jesus was pleased with this man’s humility, and proclaimed him “justified” in God’s sight (Lk 18:14).
This parable is very familiar to Catholics. Many Catholics imitate the tax collector by sitting in the back of the church. Many don’t venture out of this “in the background” position, to the point that instead of staying back out of reverence, they rather “hold back” due to a lack of humble faith (see Heb 10:38-39). So ingrained is this habit that it’s as if Catholics use it as an excuse not to serve God. Could this be a practice that originated in humility but gradually became an exercise of pride?
Humility does not mean invisibility (see Mt 5:16). It means humbly acknowledging that the gifts of the Holy Spirit working in us are far greater than our human limitations. St. Teresa of Calcutta summed it up well: “Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness.”
PRAYER: Spirit of the Living God, melt me and dissolve my pride, mold me as You see fit, fill me with Your grace, and use me always to build Your kingdom.
PROMISE: “For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled while he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” —Lk 18:14
PRAISE: Faithfully and quietly, Georgia prays weekly before the abortion clinic.