Kuwait City – 25th, 26th, 27th October 2013
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Sir 35:12-14.16-18; Ps 33; 2 Tm 4:6-8.16-18; Lk 18:9-14
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the Danish philosopher and author who described faith as a “leap” whereby the believer goes beyond reason to embrace the paradox of God, once wrote, “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” In today’s gospel reading, Jesus uses a parable presenting two men of different profiles and he compares their way of praying to God, in order to instruct us on the basic requirement of humility and faith in prayer.
The first man presented by Jesus is a Pharisee who is full of himself, who prayed “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity…”. He presents himself to God as a righteous person, who went to the temple to pray in order to inform God on how good he was! The Pharisee did not want to change himself for he held himself in high esteem over others and felt that all the others in the world had to change instead.
The second man is a tax-collector, who admits his sins and realizes that he is in need of God’s mercy. He stood off at a distance and didn’t even raise up his eyes to heaven while praying, due to the shame he felt inside, yet he lifted up his heart and voice in prayer by saying: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner”. Contrary to the Pharisee, the tax-collector placed his hope in the Lord and believed in his mercy. The tax-collector was forgiven not for being better than the Pharisee, but because he opened his heart to God’s mercy. The Lord our God always remains much greater than any of our sins and his forgiveness is always available to those who humbly acknowledge their sinfulness before him.
In our prayer therefore, let us not be boastful or consider ourselves higher than others nor even compare ourselves to others, but only seek God’s mercy for our sins. May we learn the lesson of humility and not be afraid to recognize before God our sins, weaknesses and omissions, for Christ came into the world to save his people from their sins. Instead of raising ourselves up, let us be humble. Instead of justifying ourselves, let us seek God’s justice. Instead of trying to change God according to our criteria, let us change ourselves and start living according to the Lord’s criteria. For if no change occurs as a result of prayer, then one has not really prayed.