The liturgy of the Word reminds us that all people seek God and the sincere search for God is a prerequisite for being able to encounter Him in our lives. The research is God’s humble condition to experience his salvation and joy that this produces in us.
The parable we hear this week is about a Pharisee and a publican. By comparing their way of praying the Gospel shows us the way every Christian should live. The two men belonged to different worlds. On the social level, the Pharisee has his own supporters and is appreciated for his conduct that appears to be irreproachable, while the publican is perceived as a friend of the Roman invaders, and therefore he is hated automatically.
In this situation, Jesus reveals to his listeners the true relationship with God: He loves us not because we are worthy or because of our good deeds but because He is a good Father and loves us immensely. When we consider ourselves small, being the last, and humbly recognizing ourselves as sinners we will allow ourselves to be “found” by God. This attitude is pleasing to Him, and allows us to be “justified” by God. God loves all people for free. For this reason his gifts, freely received, must become “service to others” and not a reason to boast.
We can start small in living the Gospel. I got an email from a friend who shared an experience from someone he knew from Nigeria. “During my university years I have committed some crimes. For one of these, I have been recently tried and convicted. Now I am serving my sentence in the state jail. We are used to getting so many groups who visit us. One in particular seemed to be different. They didn’t want us to become part of their church but they always talked about God’s love. They seemed to have no other agenda than being with us. And they were always smiling, which I found a bit annoying.
I was impressed by the way they talk about the gospel. It was not a book but something that is alive for them. They kept saying that we must all “put it into practice.”
“Putting it into practice?” I never thought that the gospel could exist outside the churches. One of them quoted a sentence: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Like myself,” I repeated almost like a mantra. I hammered the thought that I – yes, I – I could love. “To love? – I said to myself -But I do not know how to do it. I’m not used to show affection, not even to my parents, my family and friends. And then “whom” I am supposed to love considering where I am living?” I looked up and in front of me there was my cellmate. Shortly after we got our meal I realized that he was hungrier than me. Had I been in his shoes, I would have liked to eat more. I shared with him my ration. Then I realized: my stomach was empty, but my heart was much fuller than before! Perhaps this means to love?”