Jesus wants us to be humble. When we are humble, we know that the gifts we have come from God. Let us see ourselves as we are, accepting our faults and limitations, and knowing God loves us unconditionally.
Today, Sirach tells us that “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds.” When we humble ourselves to serve the needs of others, our prayers will be heard. This theme continues in the responsorial psalm when we are told the Lord hears the cry of the poor, He is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Proper humility toward God is an admission of our own weakness, sinfulness, and inability to obtain the things we need to live good Christian lives. We need guidance from someone far greater than who we are. God knows what we need better than we know, and He has the power to give it to us. Humility will lead us to appreciate Him, trust His will, and give Him the glory, rather than exalting ourselves. This is the lesson Jesus was teaching the Pharisees in today’s Gospel when he compared them to the tax collector.
A humble person does not focus on how to make a big impression on people or how to receive glory and honor. He will accept any task where he can help people, no matter how humble that task is in the eyes of men. When we are humble, we know that the gifts we have come from God. The greatest gift that God gave us was His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. He promised He would be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20), and every time we attend Mass, we are witnesses to Christ’s presence in the Eucharist as bread and wine become His body and blood! And when we receive Holy Communion, we must remember that Jesus is really and substantially present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically.
If we hold true to the knowledge that our good deeds are God acting in us for the betterment of those who are weak and poor, we too will inherit the kingdom of heaven. This is the message from St. Paul at the end of his life in his letter to Timothy. He proudly states “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”, but his pride is tempered with the humility that he accomplished his mission through the help of God who never deserted him.
As we live our lives, let us seek to make the tax collector’s prayer our own: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).