"Two men went up to the temple to pray." —Luke 18:10
In Hosea 14:3, the prophet led the people in prayer to return to the Lord. The Lord answered that prayer: "I will heal their defection, I will love them freely; for My wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily" (Hos 14:5-6). In Hosea 6:1, the prophet led the people in prayer to return to the Lord. The Lord answered that prayer by smiting His people through the prophets and slaying His people by the words of His mouth (Hos 6:5).
The Lord answered the same prayer in opposite ways because the prayer in Hosea 14 was prayed sincerely in repentance from idol-worship (Hos 14:9, 4), but the prayer in Hosea 6 was prayed by people "untrue" to the Lord (Hos 6:7). "When one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination" (Prv 28:9).
The Pharisee in today's Gospel reading prayed, fasted, and gave alms (Lk 18:11-12). The tax collector, who had sold his soul to the Romans to make money, also prayed (Lk 18:13-14). The tax collector "went home from the temple justified but the other did not" (Lk 18:14). This was because the Pharisee prayed in a proud, self-centered way but the tax collector repented and humbled himself (Lk 18:13-14).
The Lord will answer our prayers. Will we receive the sternness He shows to the arrogant or the kindness He gives to the humble? (1 Pt 5:5)
Prayer: Lord, teach me to pray (Lk 11:1).
Promise: "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled while he who humbles himself shall be exalted." —Lk 18:14
Praise: Sharon prayed faithfully for the conversion of her husband. It took thirty years, but she persevered and rejoiced to welcome him as a brother in Christ.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 23, 1998
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 27, 1998