A reading from the gospel according to Luke 18:9-14:
9 Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.
12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
What is wrong with the Pharisee is self-righteousness. He doesn’t even thank God for his blessings and he does not ask forgiveness for his sins because he thinks he did not commit any. What is more distasteful is his comparison of himself to others. He lifts his own chair while looking down at others.
On the other hand, there is the tax collector who acknowledged his sinfulness and asked God for mercy. This is the kind of attitude that pleased Jesus and promised to exalt this man rather than the Pharisee.
We hear some people who say they need not go to church because they thought they followed the commandments and therefore they have not sinned. The scripture says “for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Let us write this verse in big letters and paste it on our exit door or in front of our bed to always remind us of this truth especially whenever we are tempted to arrogate ourselves as righteous.
When we pray, let us always seek forgiveness for our sins especially the sins of the heart such as pride, arrogance, jealousy and greed. Moreover, as we pray, let us never forget to thank God for His amazing grace and boundless mercy.