People active in the Church may at times feel a little superior to others who are not so involved. 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 arrogant prayer of the Pharisee was prompted by a 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 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 being chosen by God set him apart as someone superior to all the rest.
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. The Lord is best proclaimed when we remember that all people are created in God’s image. 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.
Our stewardship renewal has reminded us that stewardship is about growing in a new way of life. Rooted in gratitude for the gifts of our lives, that way of life calls us to joyfully reach out in love and service to others. Once again, we are invited to name and joyfully share those blessings. The coming week is an opportunity for us to prayerfully discern what we will pledge next Sunday to support the mission and ministry of Christ Cathedral Parish. In the spirit of the Gospels these past weeks, may we take with us the gratitude of the leper who was cured, the persistence of the woman who sought healing, and the humility of the tax collector whose only motivation was to give glory to God through his generosity.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector