Reflecting on Lk. 18: 9-14
What if today’s gospel story had ended this way?
It turned out that there was construction going on in the Temple that day, and the spot where the Pharisee always prayed was full of stones. Well, he had to move all the way into the center of the Temple, and had barely begun to thank God for the many ways he was righteous, when a tax collector, of all unclean people, moved right next to him. He, too, had been pushed out of his humble prayer place by the construction, and was mortified to find himself right next to the Pharisee.
O God, said the Pharisee, I can’t pray properly with this obscene tax collector next to me. Look at him, bowing and weeping and beating his breast! And the tax collector, glancing at the Pharisee, wondered what it would be like to approach God with such confidence, with such assurance that God was pleased with his behavior out in the world.
Now, it happened that there was a Teacher in the Temple that day, a man named Jesus. Both men had heard of him, of course, and drew even closer to each other so they could hear him better. And what astonishing words he spoke! He looked at both of them with such love, such deep understanding of the detours their spiritual lives had taken that caused them to pray in such different ways.
And when it came time for the two men to leave, they embraced as dear friends. They had encountered the Healer. The first had been healed of his arrogance, the second of his shame. And from that day forward they always prayed TOGETHER, since praying apart had caused them so much sadness.
How does your parish help people of different pieties pray TOGETHER?
Kathy McGovern ©2022