Saturday - Lent Time
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
you yourself remind us through your holy people
that all our religious practices,
even this eucharistic sacrifice,
are not worth anything
if we use them to bend you our way.
God, may we come to you
in humility and repentance,
ready to encounter you in love
and to turn your way.
Accept us as your sons and daughters,
together with Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Lord for ever.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 18,9-14
Jesus spoke the following parable to
some people who prided themselves on being upright and despised everyone else,
'Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax
The Pharisee stood there and said
this prayer to himself, "I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust,
adulterous like everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax
collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get."
The tax collector stood some
distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his
breast and said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
This man, I tell you, went home
again justified; the other did not. For everyone who raises himself up will be
humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.'
In today’s Gospel, Jesus, in order to teach us to pray, tells the parable of
the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus has a different way of seeing things.
He saw something positive in the tax collector, of whom everybody said: “He
does not know how to pray!” Jesus, through prayer, lived so united to the
Father that everything became an expression of prayer for him.
The way of presenting the parable is very didactic. Luke gives a brief
introduction which serves as the key for reading. Then Jesus tells the parable
and at the end Jesus himself applies the parable to life.
Luke 18, 9: The introduction. The parable is presented by the following
phrase: “He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves
on being upright and despised everyone else!” This phrase is Luke’s. It
refers to the time of Jesus. But it also refers to our own time. There are
always persons and groups of persons who consider themselves upright and
faithful and who despise others, considering them ignorant and unfaithful.
Luke 18, 10-13: The Parable. Two men went up to the Temple to pray: one
a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. According to the opinion of people at
that time, the tax collectors were not considered at all, and they could not
address themselves to God because they were impure persons. In the parable, the
Pharisee thanks God because he is better than others. His prayer is nothing
other than a praise of himself, an exaltation of his good qualities and
contempt for others and for the tax collector. The tax collector does not even
raise his eyes, but he beats his breast and says: “God, be merciful to me, a
sinner!” He places himself in his own place, that which belongs
to him before God.
Luke 18, 14: The application. If Jesus would have allowed people to
express their opinion and say which of the two went home justified, all
would have answered: “the Pharisee!” Because at that time, this was the common
opinion. Jesus thinks in a different way. For him, the one who returns home
justified, in a good relationship with God, is not the Pharisee, but rather the
tax collector. Jesus turns all things upside down. It is certain that the
religious authority of that time was not pleased with the application which he
makes of the parable.
Jesus prays. Luke informs us, especially, about the life of prayer of Jesus. He
presents Jesus in constant prayer. The following is a list of texts of Luke’s
Gospel, in which Jesus appears in prayer: Lk 2, 46-50; 3. 21; 4, 1-12; 4, 16;
5, 16; 6, 12; 9, 16.18.28; 10, 21; 11, 1; 22, 32; 22, 7-14; 22, 40-46; 23, 34;
23, 46; 24, 30). In reading Luke’s Gospel you can find other texts which speak
about the prayer of Jesus. Jesus lived in contact with the Father. To do the
will of the Father was the breathing of his life (Jn 5, 19). Jesus prayed very
much and, insisted so that people and his disciples would do the same, because
from the union with God springs truth and the person is able to discover and
find self, in all reality and humility . In Jesus prayer was intimately bound
to concrete facts of life and to the decisions which he had to take. In order
to be faithful to the Father’s project, he sought to remain alone with Him in
order to listen to Him. Jesus prayed the Psalms. He did it like any other pious
Jew and he knew them by heart. Jesus even succeeded in composing his own Psalm.
It is the Our Father. His whole life was permanent prayer: “By himself
the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing!” (Jn 5,
19.30). To him can be applied what the Psalm says: “All I can do is pray!” (Ps
4) Personal questions
Looking into the mirror of this parable, am I like the Pharisee or like the tax
There are persons who say that they do not know how to pray, but they speak
with God all the time. Do you know any persons like this?
5) Concluding Prayer
Have mercy on me, O God, in your
in your great tenderness wipe away
wash me clean from my guilt,
purify me from my sin. (Ps 51,1-2)