As people actively involved in living out our faith in the Church, at times we may feel a little superior to others who are not so involved. Sometimes that little hint of superiority can even turn into arrogance, like the Pharisee in the Gospel who said, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity…greedy, dishonest…adulterous… (Luke 18:9-14). The motivation for the Pharisee’s arrogant prayer was the tax collector who also came to pray at the temple that day. Tax collectors were generally disdained by society for their practice of charging more taxes than were really due and keeping the surplus for themselves.
The tax collector is the one who had things in perspective. He knew he was loved by God and humbly asked for mercy. Like the Pharisee, he was part of God’s chosen people. Unlike the Pharisee, he did not let the fact that he was among God’s chosen set him apart as someone superior to all the rest.
As disciples of Jesus, we have been chosen by God to share the Good News of God’s love to the world. Along with Paul in the Scriptures, it is through us that the redeeming love of Jesus is proclaimed (2 Timothy 4:6-18). Chosen by the Lord to be his presence in the world, we are never to behave as if we are superior to others. In fact, the Lord is best proclaimed when we remember that all people are created in God’s image, not just some. As the Book of Sirach says, “The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites (Sirach 35:12-18). With God, there is no “A” list and “B” list. There is only one list and every human person is on it.
Last week as part of our parish’s stewardship renewal, we were reminded that all of us are blessed in some way. As good stewards, our responsibility is to name and share those blessings. This week, our acknowledgement that we are chosen by Jesus to share his love and blessings needs to be accompanied by a humble recognition that we are all created equal in the sight of God. Like the tax collector, we are to honestly present our true selves with our strengths and weaknesses before the Lord. As disciples chosen by Jesus, that is how the Good News of his love will touch the world.
Together in faith,
Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector