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 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 and 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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
When contemplating a Scripture passage, St. Ignatius invites us to place ourselves in the role of one of the figures in the story. As I pray with this passage, I find myself alternately drawn to seeing myself as the Pharisee and seeing myself as the tax collector. It can be easy to look at the attitudes and behaviors of these too men as binary; one is either humble and repentant or proud and boastful. But in reality I know that I fall in between these, and sometimes swing from one to the other.
There are areas about my life about which I can be honest and have great humility–my lack of athletic prowess, for example. But there are other areas where I have blinders on, and the notion of being successful, or having achieved what I have through my hard work and dedication, can stand in the way of my relationship with God. All that I have is gift, and my prayer ought to recognize this.
What are blind spots you have in humbling yourself before God? What are the things we need to let go of in order to grow closer to our Lord?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.
—Prayer for Humility by Daniel A. Lord, SJ
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