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In the Book of Sirach we read, “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.” In other words, the prayer of a person in need is heard by God — “nor will (this prayer) withdraw until the Most High responds.”
It is important to take the stance of a person in need when coming before God. We should come before God in need of God’s help. That is the lesson of Jesus in the Gospel for today. Two people go up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee, filled with pride, goes up to the temple in a show of prayer, but does he actually pray? Not to God. Jesus said, “The Pharisee took up his position (of prayer) and spoke this prayer to himself.” The Pharisee uses the language of prayer, but he has become his own god. He says, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.” He is really saying to himself, “Look how perfect I am.” He has no need. He asks for nothing. He believes he is too good, without sin, and not in need of God’s mercy. So he doesn’t receive anything from God. He receives nothing, actually.
Now, the tax collector goes to prayer in a posture of humility. He does not look up, because he knows that he is not worthy. He comes with his neediness and says, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And, behold, he receives God’s mercy and goes home justified, or made right with God.
Let us remember that we are people in need when we come before God, so that when we pray, we ask, seek, and knock so that we might receive, find, and have the door to God’s heart opened up to us.
Have a blessed week everyone.