After warning the disciples of the coming apocalypse and urging them to persevere in prayer with the confidence that God will answer them, Christ explains the need for the compassionate love for others and humility in God’s economy of grace. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is outstanding model of the mindset that a man should have in prayer.

Christ address the parable towards men who consider themselves to be pious and who despise others for their sinfulness. In the parable, the Pharisee pridefully stands and prays to himself, boasting to God and exalting his many pious ways. The Pharisee brags that he exceeds the requirements of fasting (two times per week versus the required one) and tithing (tithing on everything, not just select items as specified by the Law). The Pharisee, under the guise of prayer, curses others who sin, lumping the Tax Collector in with extortioners, unjust and adulterers; The Pharisee claims that he is not like the other sinners. The Pharisee doesn’t love God or the Tax Collector; he loves himself.

In contrast, Christ holds up the Tax Collector as the model for prayer. The Tax Collector stands apart, aware of his own unworthiness, eyes downcast in sorrow and guilt, beats his chest (Greek word means, “to be reconciled”) in sorrow. His prayer is simple: “God, be merciful on me, a sinner.” Christ praises the Tax Collector’s prayer; it is humble, respectful, sorrowful for sin, acknowledges God’s dominion, mercy and power to forgive and begs for God’s mercy.  Christ omniously warns, those who exalts themselves will be humbled.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ reveals His knowledge of how God views the prayers of men; omniscient, Christ knows the inner lives of men. Divine King, Christ fearlessly rebukes the powerful Pharisees for their sinfulness. Divine Teacher, Christ teaches with parables that inspire and teach men.  Divine Priest, Christ teaches men how to pray. Divine Prophet, Christ reveals the truth to men, rebuking those who are self-righteous.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at how Christ’s mercy, which has infinite value, is available to any man who comes to Him in humble repentance. Go to Confession.

2) Today, pious Catholic men can become isolated and prideful in their attempts to keep God’s word, judging others who are mired in sin while not recognizing their own pious pride.  Reflect on this parable and ask Christ to give you greater humility. Commit to pray like the Tax Collector (humility, sorrowful, beating your chest, etc.) in Mass during the Confession of Sins.

3) In a culture that promotes public displays of self-pride (e.g. end zone “celebrations”, Facebook bragging, trash-talking, “pride” parades, etc.), the virtue of humility is seldom taught. Get a copy of “The Litany of Humility” by Cardinal Merry del Va and begin to pray it on a regular basis.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner