Feast of St. Patrick
During the Lenten season we are given the opportunity to open our lives and hearts to Christ’s coming at Easter. It becomes a time for purification of the heart; a self evaluation on how you are measuring up in your spiritual life and your relationship to God. Hopefully, every year we are making strides in that area, but there is always room for improvement.
As the Gospel shows us today, the humble tax collector who asked only for God’s mercy went away justified as opposed to the self-righteous Pharisee. Why is that? It would seem at first glance that the Pharisee is doing everything right; sacrificing all that he needs to do to obtain eternal glory. It seems as if he needs to do nothing more because he is keeping all of the earthly laws in mind. On the contrary, in the first reading and psalm for today, we are reminded that God is not pleased with burnt offerings or sacrifice but have a contrite heart and full of humility. As we continue to read the Gospel, it is the tax collector who humbles himself before the Lord. He is not examining what others are doing and reporting their missteps back to God, but rather exhibiting remorse for his own sins. He recognizes that he is not doing everything that he can to be pleasing to God and asks for mercy. Throughout this season as we have heard through the Scriptures, the prophets and psalmist constantly ask for mercy and cleanliness of heart. It is through those words that the relationship with God is opened to whatever His will may be for us.
We have been given this time to meditate on how we can open our lives to God’s presence and will. Today we are being urged by all the readings to return to the Lord with an open and honest heart. We are called to examine what is happening in our lives, humble ourselves before his presence and open our hearts to the improvements that He wants us to make.
Kim Garcia is the Pastoral Associate at Holy Name Retreat Center in Houston, Texas.