The WORDS in Other Words by Fr Abraham Borja SVD (Jerusalem) for Saturday 3rd Week of Lent
Pilgrims go up to Calvary to visit, to pray, and to approach God to where Jesus was crucified. One Saturday, a group was descending the narrow exit stairs, while a man and his companions began to ascend the steps. Someone called their attention that the entrance is at the opposite side of the stairs, but the man showed his ID and said “I am a guide and I can do whatever I want.” Then he continued to go up not minding what the other person was saying.
The guide might be familiar with the place and knowledgeable of the events that happened there. However, the basic thing can be overlooked – in Calvary, Jesus carried out the will of the Father and not his own. It is paradoxical that one comes near the place where Jesus humbled and “emptied himself” (Phil 2:7) and yet asserts his own identity and his own will.
In today’s gospel, Jesus uses two opposing figures to teach us the right attitude before God. First is the Pharisee who, after addressing God, begins to set himself apart from the rest of humanity. He talks much about the bad attitudes of others and continues to brag his works. He approaches God, yet focuses not on God but on himself. Second is the tax collector whose actions demonstrate remorse. He acknowledges that he is a sinner before the eyes of God. He manifests knowledge of God – a merciful One – and focuses his heart on Him.
Anyone who approaches God – whether in a pilgrimage site, in a temple area, in a church, or in the silence of one’s heart – must keep the God’s word through the prophet Hosea in today’s first reading: “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hos 6:6).
Source – The WORD in Other Words, Bible Diary 2020