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Friday, March 4, 2016

Authentic Humility

"O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income." 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." Lk 18: 11-13

It is abundantly clear that Jesus demands humility as a foundational value for his disciples. All of life and faith is a gift, not something we earn but something given to us freely by God out of love. Whenever we take credit for any thing we do without first thanking God for the gift of faith denies our dependence on God for all that is good within and among us.

The days of Lent find most of us trying to fast, pray and act mercifully towards those most in need, all of which is good and laudable, but unless we remember that our prayer, fasting and kindness to the needy are acts of gratitude for all that we have been given, we miss the point of the Gospel.

The reason the tax collector is held up by Jesus for admiration and imitation is because he acknowledges his sin as a tax collector for the Roman occupiers of Palestine. Not only did tax collectors do the work of the Romans, they sometimes cheated their own country men and women in order to make a living. Admitting his weakness and sin, the tax collexctor does not excuse his behavior, but asks God for mercy. We must do the same.

Today, pray in gratitude for God's mercy.

What aspect of a Gospel lifestyle is most difficult for you?

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