Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
The gospel today starts off by declaring it is addressed to “those who are convinced of their own righteousness and despise everyone else.” In the story, two people went up to pray in the temple. One was looked down upon in society (the tax collector) and the other was not (the Pharisee). The Pharisee thanked God that he was not like the rest of humanity. He fasted and paid his due, so he believed he was a good person. This Pharisee failed to realize that we are all human, and that we all have our faults. As humans, we have the tendency to overlook our own faults in our arrogance, but they are still visible and apparent to God. God sees all of our strengths and faults no matter how big or small they might be, but God does not worry about our faults. He realizes and understands that as humans we all have them; He just asks that we realize and understand the same of other humans as well. The Pharisee in this story may make all of the sacrifices to God that he may like, but God will not be happy with him if he does not make sacrifices for others. If one only makes sacrifices for God but not for others, then they are only doing it for themselves. They are doing it so that they may be favored by God when they pass away and it is time to determine whether or not they should enter the Kingdom of Heaven. You see, God does not want us to only do good for the benefit of ourselves, but to do good for the sake of doing good. He wants not a one of us to think we are better than another, and that is His true teaching. Often we see Jesus criticizing those throughout the gospels for failing to realize the true word of God. It does not matter how much you praise and thank God if you do not praise and thank others for what they can offer you. Fasting, paying homage, and other forms of worship of human origin are respectful and honorable to God, but what He truly wants is for us to treat other humans well regardless of what they do or who they are. Although it’s been over 2000 years since this parable was first told, it is still applicable today. Too often we look down upon others in society based upon their social status. To quote the gospel of Mark in this instance: “You are thinking not as God does, but as humans do”. When we judge others, hold grudges against them, or perform sacrifices for God thinking highly of ourselves as we do, then we are not doing what God wants us to do. We are doing what humans think God wants us to do. So this Lenten season, let us all try to carry out the word of God and realize that each of us has faults as humans. Let us realize, understand, and forgive these faults in recognition of our own. With this, the world will become a more peaceful and understanding place in itself.
Andy Wilmes is a junior in the School of Public Health.