Psalms 51:3-4, 18-19, 20-21
A very wise Jesuit priest once listened to me talk about how I pray and asked me, “Where is the focus of your prayer – on you or on God?” I realized that I often prayed for what I wanted from God but rarely prayed to find out what God wanted from me. My focus was on solving my own problems rather than asking how I could serve God, but that question helped me to refocus my prayers, at least for the moment.
Today’s gospel is much the same lesson: two men are praying in the temple. The Pharisee in his prayer spends most of his time congratulating himself for being better than everyone else. The other man, a tax collector, is so humbled before God that he can say nothing more than, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” Which one am I most like? I squirm uncomfortably at this question.
Do I live my life as someone who is focused on God and others or is my main vision in life directed on my needs and my own happiness? I can sense it in my life when I move away from the God-centered life. Things are out of balance. I am aware of every annoyance of my husband, I have little patience with my kids and mostly I am aware of ME and how everyone else has an impact on me.
Today in my Lenten journey, I want to try not to be centered on myself. Today I want to trade places in the temple. I want to take off the Pharisee’s flashy robes of my own arrogance and embrace the humility of the tax collector. I don’t want to make myself the center of my day.
This feels like an impossible task some days and my first instinct
is to wonder how I can ever accomplish it alone. Then I remember
the tax collector in the temple, bow my head and ask for help.
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