Dear Friend of Carmel Mission,
This week’s Gospel builds on the call to persistent prayer that we heard last week. This week Jesus addresses who can pray, and how we should pray. The parable exaggerates the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisee, or perhaps simply puts into a verbal prayer the ideas that the Pharisee conveys by his attitude and his treatment of others. A lot of human communication is nonverbal, or at least not directly verbal. We need look no further than the vicious things that people say to each other on the internet and over social media, things that they would simply never say face to face.
In the first reading Sirach tells us, “The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites.” (Sir 35:12) This would certainly not be good news to the Pharisee, who views himself as God’s favorite. Indeed, if we are honest, we all want to be special in God’s eyes. Fortunately, we are! Our specialness is found in our unique personal relationship with our loving God, in which we are indeed favored, cherished, and known intimately. But this intimate love does not limit God’s capacity to love anyone else to the same degree.
God’s love is infinite, unlike our own, but I think we have a way in our human relationships to understand this phenomenon. I have always hesitated to name in my own life my “best friend.” I am fortunate to have dear friends, close family members, brother priests who could all hypothetically, at various times, wear that title, but not to the exclusion of one another. I imagine many of you may feel the same. If we take that idea on a broader scale, we have to ask how we can possibly compare any person’s worth? In the Gospel Jesus does not condemn the Pharisee for his actions, which may indeed be righteous, but that he elevated himself in comparison to the tax collector. This week I invite you to join me in working to eliminate the human tendency to compare ourselves with others and embrace the beautiful truth that we are equally worthy, and equally loved, in the eyes of our loving God.
I wish you and your loved ones blessings of good health and new hope. Please continue to pray for peace,
Please take a moment to read our Carmel Mission Weekly Bulletin.