He Who Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted | iPray with the Gospel
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Poor man! This is what we mean by the expression ‘holier-than-thou’. This Pharisee, haughty and proud, self-sufficient and selfsatisfied, was presenting before God his “decorations”, his many “merits”. How ridiculous! He seems to think that God, like a teacher, is satisfied if you do your homework. He seems to think that he could ‘buy’ Heaven with his works. It seems that he was convinced that he ‘deserved’ Heaven. Pride, conceit, contempt, critical thoughts, but specially, lack of love for God and others, are sins. He was a sinner but didn’t know it. All his works, done without love, were as useless as a chocolate teapot, like sewing without thread.
We should examine ourselves to see if we have a bit of this attitude as well: ‘I thank You, Lord, because I’m not like my friends who cheat in exams, or don’t go to Mass on Sundays. I go to Mass twice a week, I pray the rosary with my family and even use the iPray almost every day. I tidy my room once a week and do the dishwasher when I’m told…’ Be aware that St Peter will not be very impressed with your list of ‘merits’ the day you meet him at the gates of Heaven, because he will also have a list with all your sins (that one which the Pharisee forgot to bring to his prayer). We will get to Heaven, not by ‘how much we did’ but by ‘how much we loved’. An mp3 player can say prayers (‘mp3 prayer’), but it can’t love. We can do both things at the same time.
It’s by the Mercy of God that we will enter Heaven. All the things we have done will help us if – and only if – we did them out of love. Mary, Mother of Fair Love, may I learn from you to do everything for Love, out of love.
Rev. George Boronat M.D. S.T.D is a Catholic priest from the Prelature of Opus Dei, working in the Archdiocese of Southwark in London. He is the Chaplain of The Cedars Independent School in Croydon, and also works as Chaplain of Kelston Club & Study Centre (Balham) and Oakwood Independent School (Purley). He has developed his pastoral ministry mainly with young people and is the author of iPray with the Gospel: Resources to Help Young People Pray (www.ipraywiththegospel.org).