Today’s Gospel parable reminds us that we are justified only by the grace of God. God’s gift of grace can take root in us only when we have the humility to acknowledge our need because of our sins.
The Pharisee is a very good person. He has obeyed all the laws of God. His efforts have even gone beyond the law; he fasts twice a week and pays tithes on his whole income. There is much about him that we might admire. But Jesus wants us to focus on his attitude. The man sees himself as better than the rest of people. He’s proud of his goodness.
The tax collector approaches God at a distance. He is very aware of his sinfulness, his need for God’s mercy. We’re told that his humble prayer pierces the clouds and reaches the heart of God. God does not delay in responding. The tax collector went home justified – at peace with God who reads the heart.
Honesty and humility are very basic foundations for developing a deeper relationship with God. No matter how good we strive to be in our daily living, our eternal salvation is always a gift of God’s saving grace and mercy. When it comes to pleasing God, we must learn never to become self-sufficient. We cannot earn salvation no matter how much good we do. We can only accept saving grace with great humility and respond thankfully by doing the good we are able to do each day..
Let us willingly acknowledge our need for God’s mercy each day. We can be confident that God will hear our humble prayer. Our merciful God will always lift us up and send us home justified.