Justification Belongs to The Lord

Missionary Weekly Reflection
Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, 27 October 2019
Sir. 35:12-14,16-18; Ps. 34:2-3,17-18,19,23; 2Tim. 4:6-8,16-18; Luk. 18:9-14

Two figures appear representing two groups of different level! The Pharisee clearly represented the devout folk who was faithful and obedient to Torah Law. The tax collector was exactly the opposite. He was a traitor to the nation for they worked with Roman colonizer. Their job was open to many violation and fraud. Because of their relationship with strangers and keeping the infidel’s money, they belonged to a profane group! Both came to the temple for praying.

The temple was the map of piety and purity. In the Temple we could see how people were separated and distinguished: the Jews and infidel, men and women, piety and sinner. The more devout the closer to the Most Holy Place, the more sinful the farther away! One’s position in the Temple showed the level of piety. Look at the praying position of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee separated himself and prayed in gratitude in the front row. The tax collector knew who he was, therefore he stood far away. His position had to be at the back, close to the exit, a strategic position to disappear as fast as possible and slip away without being seen. A gesture that showing the feeling of unworthy and undeserved to be there. That was indeed a place for a sinner like him. Only a prayer of mercy that he could present. No piety nor religious achievement that he could express. On the other hand, the Pharisee was grateful that he was not like everyone else: robbers, tyranny and adulterer, or tax collector. He fasted twice and paid tithes on all he got. In the two cases he did more than what was told by the Torah. He was the model of a pious Jew!

A surprise happened when they went home. Jesus said that the tax collector was justified by the Lord. It means: the map of the Temple was left. In the Kingdom of God, the standard of impure-profane and pious-sinner was no longer used. It’s only the Lord who did or not did not justify the man, not the Temple nor religion! Justifying the man or not is God’s privilege. Readers are reminded of the danger of boasting the piety which is known as spiritual pride. Love and service can easily become a pride; talent and charisma can be instantly claimed as private asset, no longer used for the sake of building a church; prayer and testimony can turn into a show of arrogance and an opportunity to reproach others. The prayer of the Pharisee showed how fake his piety was: he was busy with comparison and contrast. He didn’t receive anything from the Lord, because he just counted what he had owned. The worse was: he claimed God’s right to judge and justify. He was not only registered his spiritual achievement, but also ‘reminded’ God of the tax collector’s sin! On the contrary, the tax collector was justified for he required God’s justification. He admitted and needed God’s grace, therefore he was justified by God!

Prayer is not only the fulfillment of one of the piety obligations, but the whole man’s attitude before the Lord! Before the Lord, a man is a sinner justified by the Lord. A man can only give thanks or beg and allow Him to justify, judge and rule his life!

(Hortensio Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society, Jakarta)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the world salvation. May the Holy Spirit, as the soul of Jesus, also lead and give me the strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, I specially present my prayer to our Pope and Indonesian Church prayer apostles of this month:

For Evangelization intention:

Harvesting season for mission work in the Church: May the breath of Holy Spirit seed and nourish the Church with the sprouting of effort and work for the new mission. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention:

Churches at the villages: Along with less young people who are willing to stay in the villages, may the local churches find the programs that can direct the youth to love and develop their own village. We pray…

Special Intention:

May the people in our Diocese support the nationalism of our youth, so they can continue their role in working together with other young fellowship to build fraternity wisely. We pray

Amen

 

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