By: Bobot Apit Apr 2, 2011 - Saturday Meditation (Take Your Eyes Off Yourself!) Jesus invites each one of us to pray as the tax collector did, in humility and simplicity. So take your eyes off yourself, and fix them on God. Come into his presence, recalling his glorious majesty and his great love for you. If the Spirit leads, offer words of thanks and praise for everything that God has done for you. Saturday in the Third Week of Lent Hosea 6:1-6 Psalm 51:3-4, 18-19, 20-21ab Luke 18:9-14 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 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. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 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!' 14 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." Meditation by "The Word Among Us" “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) There’s one, it seems, in every crowd: the person who is so full of himself that his conversation inevitably swings to the subject of his own achievements, importance, and superiority. Have you traveled to some interesting place? She’s traveled more. Are your kids, grandkids, or students intelligent? His are geniuses. Do you golf, quilt, or cook? She does it better. Do you suffer from arthritis? No one has ever suffered like her—or borne the pain more nobly. We flee people like this. And if God were like us, maybe he’d have fled too when he spotted the Pharisee in today’s parable coming up to the Temple to pray! Because although the man begins well— with “O God, I thank you”—his prayer of thanksgiving has nothing to do with God’s work. It’s all about the Pharisee: how much he’s doing for God and how brightly he shines out among the sinners. His words gush up like a fountain in smug praise of his own accomplishments and spiritual state. Meanwhile, back there in last place, a tax collector is beating his breast. Eyes on the ground, hardly daring to speak in the presence of Almighty God, he utters just a few heartfelt words: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Is he repenting of having extorted a widow’s last coin? Is he a saint in tax-collector’s clothing? Jesus never says. It is clear, though, that this man knows his deep need for divine mercy, and he turns to God as the only one who can save him. Today, Jesus invites each one of us to pray as the tax collector did, in humility and simplicity. So take your eyes off yourself, and fix them on God. Come into his presence, recalling his glorious majesty and his great love for you. If the Spirit leads, offer words of thanks and praise for everything that God has done for you. Or repent of your sins and failings. And if words fail you, that’s fine! Because essentially, prayer isn’t about the words we bring to God. It’s about bringing him a heart that’s empty of self—a “broken, humbled heart” that he can heal and fill with his own love (Psalm 51:19). “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, I know that there’s some of the Pharisee in me. Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
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