Providentially no doubt I am a little late in publishing this weeks reflection. I got somewhat sidetracked in preparing a garage sale (yard sale) for my mother. As usual there is much household stuff that is close to its last hoorah. Time dictates deterioration and fashions as the new takes the glory of the old, and so… anyone for Liberace records? Interestingly as I sit here with the radio on, the song “Lord, its hard to be humble” comes on. I don’t know who sings it but I’m sure it’s on YouTube with everything else if you’re interested.
This weeks gospel is about humility. Jesus contrasts two men: one a pride man of power and status and proud to be so. He prays to God (usually a good thing) thanking him that he is not like everyone else. He is especially is not like this tax collector who is a sinner and despised by many in the community. The tax collector meanwhile is also praying: have mercy on me a sinner. Jesus makes the tax collector an example of prayer and contrition.
I am reminded of the sacrament of confession. There is a strong connection between confession and contrition; contrition is the essential matter of the sacrament while the words of absolution are the form. Particularly what I’m reminded of the is renewal confession gives the penitent. It is through contrition an confession that one can find renewal, as John the Baptist preached, “repent and believe the good news”.
This renewal is one of the heart. A turning from pride to humility; a turning from self reliance to God-reliance; from division by sin to communion in God. Humility allows the heart to remain opened to God; pride keeps us separated from God and others. The grace of humility renews us. I’m reminded this time of Paul’s “new creation” theology, where we are renewed in the Spirit; renewed by God. It makes me wonder, what good is pride anyway? At best it might be a temporary solution for a temporary gain, but we lose out in the long run. At worst, it separates us from God forever.
Let humility restore us. We are the old common household items in the final days of glory in search of a new life. Through humility we can find a new life: everlasting life. As God dictates let the New take the glory of the Old. But we are fallen creatures, and we find it difficult to do what we ought. We ought to be humble, but it is hard. “Lord it is hard to be humble, but I’m doin’ the best that I can”. Let us not rely then on ourselves, rely on God and he will do it.