Today's Reading: Luke 18:9-14
"And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' (Luke 18:13)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Pharisee thought he was all that. The tax collector knew he was nothing. The Pharisee walked out with the Lord's ears shut to his prayer and his self-righteousness was the only kind he had. The tax collector walked out with a Lord whose ears were open to his prayer and with the righteousness of Jesus bestowed on him.
Every one of us can think of someone we're sure we're better than. Better looking. A better athlete. Smarter. More religious. More well behaved. Better liked. More sociable. But consider this: Every person who is better than someone else has someone who is better than they are. There are plenty of people out there better than you at all kinds of things. If life is based upon our comparison with others, we're doomed. Not only will we be miserable but how will we stand up when compared to the perfect Son of God? Do you really want God to judge you based on that?
But He doesn't. Instead, He judges Jesus as if He is you and you as if you are Jesus. In the Father's eyes, the hater is Jesus and you are the perfect one — not because you are, but because He is. When the tax collector prayed, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner," he was asking the Lord to judge Him based on Jesus and not on himself.
That's what the Lord does. He doesn't compare you to anyone else. He sees you as if you were His perfect child, which you are by your Baptism into Jesus. So how can you compare yourself to anyone else? That's why the tax collector teaches us to pray a prayer that isn't about us but about God's mercy. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. And He is merciful to you in Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, who are always more ready to hear than we to pray and give more than we either desire or deserve, pour down upon us the abundance of Your mercy, forgiving those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things that we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Christ, our Lord; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 11)
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