Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
Hosea 6:1-6 and Luke 18:9-14
In today’s Gospel reading we find ourselves praying in the temple with a Pharisee and a tax collector. The Pharisee is proud of the fasting and tithing he practices, and is grateful he is not like the rest of humanity, especially that evil tax collector next to him! But the tax collector, without even lifting his eyes to God, acknowledges his sinfulness and asks God for mercy. Jesus tells us that it is the tax collector who goes home justified, not the Pharisee.
Where did the Pharisee go wrong? Isn’t it admirable to fast and pay tithes? Aren’t was asked to make the same sacrifices during Lent? It’s likely that the Pharisee did indeed practice severe fasting on Mondays and Thursdays for the good of the whole nation, and we have no reason to doubt that he tithed a great deal of money. But the Pharisee misses the point. God isn’t waiting for us to prove ourselves; the sacrifices we make don’t cause God to love us any more. God already loves us infinitely, no matter what.
The first reading from Hosea gives us the answer to the problem of the Pharisee: “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Our sacrifices are not going to impress God. Instead, the practices we undertake should create space in our lives for God to enter. What can we do this Lent to open ourselves to the love and mercy of God? How can we make room for God?
Assistant Director of Chapel Music