The Secret Of Good Worship, 23RD OCTOBER 2016
Today’s gospel is one to which every believer needs to pay close attention. It is the story of two believers, a Pharisee and a tax collector. It is important to underline the facts that both men werebelievers in the same God, both belonged to the same religion and both worshipped in the same temple. Both men were active believers who participated in temple worship and said their daily prayers. But what do we see? At the end of the worship one of them goes home at peace with God but the other did not. We all, believers in God, need to pay attention to this story not only to learn the secret of offering a worship acceptable to God but also of leading a life of faith that leads to justification and not disappointment at the end of the day. It will help us to appreciate the point of this parable if we try to understand a little bit more of who the Pharisees were. It often comes to us as a surprise to hear that the Pharisees were, in fact, disciplined and devout men of religion. Pharisees were serious-minded believers who had committed themselves to a life of regular prayer and observance of God’s Law. In fact, they went beyond the requirements of the law. They fasted twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, even though the law only required people to fast once a year, on the Day of Atonement. They gave tithes of all their income and not just of the required parts. When the Pharisee in the parable said, “I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income” (vv. 11-12) he wasn’t kidding. Few Christians today can measure up to the high moral standards of the Pharisees.
Believing in God does not really save anybody. Like the Pharisee and the tax collector we too have come to God’s house to offer worship and prayers. Like them we too hope to go home at the end of this service reconciled and at peace with God. Then let us learn from the tax collector the secret of worshipping in a manner that is acceptable to God. First, we should not listen to other people or even to our own consciences when they tell us that God is so angry with us that He cannot possible forgive us. Secondly, we must acknowledge our sinfulness and entrust ourselves to the generous mercy of God which is bigger than any sins we might have committed. Finally, we promise God to never to look down on our fellow sinners but to help them in their search for God, just as the tax collector is helping us today in our search for God. Remember, God always opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. We are all the same when we stand before God.
BY: FR. RAPHAEL HESSAH
Secret Of Good Worship