People went to church to pray… Sounds like the Gospel: two people went to the Temple area to pray.
Another great story – and teaching – by Jesus.
And here we are this weekend. Maybe we relate to one or the other people in the Gospel today or maybe we relate to both of the people in the Gospel today, which is my guess.
I would share that one of the points of today’s Gospel is the example set forth by the Tax Collector. He knows his life is a bit messed up; he knows he has not always been the best person of God that he could or should be; he knows he is not the greatest; he knows he has sinned — but he knows that his prayer, “oh God, be merciful to me a sinner,” is the first step to growing in faith, in growing in relationship to God and people.
And then there is the Pharisee. He knows he is the greatest. He knows or at least says he does all the right things. He knows (or thinks) he is not like others: greedy, dishonest, adulterous.
Just maybe, if the Pharisee was a bit more in tune to the fact that one’s interior dispositions and one’s exterior dispositions do not always match, his attitude and prayer would be much different.
What you see or what you think about another person is often not true. Yet, our God knows us, our God wishes to walk with us, to work with us and within us in our journey of life and faith.
And not to be overlooked is St. Paul. Paul, who as his life nears the end has done his best and believes that God will bring him home, and Paul does not single himself out. Paul, who persevered; Paul, who fought the good fight is meant to be model to us all. And like Paul and the Tax Collector in our scriptures – both let God be God in their lives and asked (or better yet prayed) to our God for mercy and forgiveness, acceptance, understanding and so much more.
The Tax Collector and St. Paul are set before us to reminds us, that today and everyday offers us the opportunity to make the move from our playing God, to letting God be God in our lives, not just once, but time and time again.
As a sort of post script to this weekend’s scriptures, I began to think about how much of an “Inviting Church” are we as a persons, families, Parish and Church?
Obviously, an “Inviting Church” is not the Church of the Pharisee who is at the very least self-centered, proud, and judgmental.
Hopefully it gets us all thinking about being and becoming an “Inviting Church.” Inviting to those who drift into Church on occasion or maybe never. Inviting to those who have been here for ever and ever – Amen. Inviting to those we call neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.
“Being an Inviting Church” needs to be the work of each and every one of us. “Being an Inviting Church” means we need to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of yesteryears and today. Through our words and actions of invitation and welcome to those inside these church doors and to those outside these church doors.
People went to Church this weekend and God spoke to them, God touched their hearts and minds and souls.
People will be going home from Church this weekend, sent forth to share the Good News, the Gospel of mercy and forgiveness; the Gospel of great love and invitation and so much more lived out today by his disciples of St. Mary’s, Crescent and others twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week, more and more.