"All he did was beat his breast and say, 'O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.' " —Luke 18:13
In the modern Church, we are busy about many things. We have more programs and activities than ever. But maybe we should blow the whistle, take time out, and figure out why we're so busy. Maybe we should drop everything, get off the treadmill, stop the rat-race, and focus on the essentials, such as repentance from sin and commitment to Jesus.
In the gospel, the Pharisee had many prayers to pray but the tax collector had nothing to say except, "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Lk 18:13). However, the tax-collector "went home from the temple justified but the other did not" (Lk 18:14). It doesn't matter how much we do at church but how much we let God do.
Sometimes I think the Lord may look at us and say: "What can I do with you?...Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away" (Hos 6:4). "You are anxious and upset about many things; one thing only is required" (Lk 10:41-42). The Lord desires love, not programs and activities (Hos 6:6). Of course, the Lord wants us to express our love in practical ways, but still they will know we are Christians by our love (Jn 13:35). We are in church and in service because we are first in love with the Lord.
Prayer: Jesus, stop anything in my life which is not motivated by my love for You.
Promise: "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." —Lk 18:14
Praise: Even though embarrassed sometimes by the overbearing manner of an acquaintance, Joanna accepts God's grace to publicly be welcoming to her.
Reference: (Be set on fire this Lent with the Holy Spirit. Order our four-tape audio series on Gifts of the Spirit. It starts with AV 3A-1.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Giles H. Pater, August 18 8, 2004
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 23, 2004