Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
In Sunday’s Gospel reading Jesus tells of the Pharisee and the sinner praying in the Temple. (Luke 18:9-14). The sinner was honest with God humbly confessing his sins and asking for God’s forgiveness. The Pharisee, on the other hand, prayed with himself telling God, or more likely himself, all the good things he had done. Yes, he did offer thanksgiving when he said: I thank God I am not as this man but essentially he prayed to a mirror image of himself as Father Michael put it.
No doubt we all have mirrors in our houses somewhere. What image do they reflect? I often look into the bathroom mirror and wonder who the white haired old man I see there is and ask myself why he has come to live with us.
Thinking of the Pharisee praying to his own mirror image let me ask, are we honest in our prayers? Take, for instance, the prayer Jesus taught us. Thy kingdom come, we pray, but do we really mean it? “That’s too much for me to handle, someone else will have to deal with that.” Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. “If you think I am going to forgive her you are quite mistaken! She started it I did nothing wrong! It’s she who should come to me to say sorry!” Give us this day our daily bread. “Well, I need it I deserve it. I pay my taxes.” I want, I need, I demand, I have done nothing wrong. Doesn’t this all sound rather similar to the way the Pharisee prayed?
One element that is missing here is the humility shown by the sinner in Jesus’ parable. But also missing is the grace of charity, a love for our neighbour. After all, even a simple smile or word of encouragement would help God’s kingdom to come and how hard is that? Or, what prevents you from taking the first step to reconcile the argument? Again, haven’t you enough bread already? Why not share what you have with those who have not?
Yet by adopting these apparently simple ways we will be the mirror in which people will see a reflection of God.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years