THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
9 August 2020
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Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a parable for all who trust in themselves. The parable involves two men very opposite in attitude and intention. The Pharisee trusted in himself and despised all others. He says: "I thank You that I am not like the rest of men…" The Publican was greatly humbled by his sins and being in the Temple in the Presence of God. The Publican's words were: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." The Publican was made just by the grace of God and the Pharisee was not. The Pharisee did not seek forgiveness or justification from God in his prayer, so he received neither. The Publican begged for mercy and received much more. Jesus sums up the moral of the parable in these words: "Every one that exalts himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbles himself, shall be exalted."
A little pride within us can easily destroy any good that may be in us. The merits of a lot of good works are lost due to pride and vanity. When we do our works before men to be seen by them, we lose all eternal merit because, in our pride, we only seek the praise of men. Jesus then will tell us that we have received our reward and we have none to expect in Heaven. God is just and fair. He allows the proud men to receive what they want. They wanted the empty pride and vanity that comes from recognition by the world of their "good" qualities. Satisfied with this illusion, the proud man seeks for nothing from God and so, he receives nothing but the material or worldly praise, or even worse, his own self-praise.
We must frequently remind ourselves that all that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. It is His grace working within us that produces anything good in us. The moment we see some small goodness within ourselves we should remind ourselves that it is a grace or gift from God, and it is not our own doing. If we consider that we have gained something by our own labors, we must remember that it is God Who gave us the strength, the time, the intelligence, the health, the opportunity, etc. It is truly His work in us rather than our own work. All the honor and glory belong to God. The most that we can say of ourselves is that we did not completely oppose God in doing good in us or through us. We allowed God to do something good and did not interfere. We would do well to imagine the good that God could do in us or through us if we were not only passive in receiving His grace but if we cooperated with Him!
We truly have nothing to boast of because God could do so much more in us and through us if we only let Him. He respects our free wills and will not force us into Heaven, but He is constantly trying to build us up and make us worthy to spend eternity with Him.
The humility of the Publican is presented to us to remind us that no matter how great our sins may be, true humble repentance obtains mercy, pardon, and grace for us. Just as a little pride destroys everything, so a little humility can repair everything. No matter how grievous or embarrassing our sins may be, we should humbly confess them and seek the mercy and forgiveness of them in the Sacrament of Penance. We will obtain what we seek and much more in the graces God will give us to lift us up perhaps even higher than we were before we fell.
We must strive to imitate the good deeds that the Pharisee did, but without the pride, as well as imitate the humility of the Publican, but without the sins. If we will only humbly cooperate with the graces of God and seek to do His Will rather than our own, there is no limit to the eternal heights that we can ascend. As long as we live in this life, we can advance in the spiritual life by cooperating with God and the graces He gives us. We can truly forget ourselves and live only for Him -- always seeking to do His Will while never allowing pride to try and rob Him of the honor and glory that belongs only to Him. Every day that is left to us in this world should be spent growing in grace and merit by cooperating and never opposing the Will of God. We should also be constantly growing in humility, recognizing the fact that all the good that may be found in us is God's work and not our own. There is nothing to hold us back, except ourselves. We only need to stop getting in the way of God's Will and let Him advance us in grace and virtue.
May we humbly imitate the Blessed Virgin Mother of God and daily repeat her fiat "Behold the handmaid (servant) of the Lord, be it done to me according to Thy Word."
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