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Lord, have mercy on me

Sometimes people are slow to understand their negative behaviour. Often it is a rude shock — such as a negative experience — that awakens us to the truth.

Lord, have mercy on me

Saturday 21st March 2020
3rd Week of Lent
Hos. 6:1-6; Ps. 51(50):3-4,18-19,20-21;
Lk. 18:9-14 (Ps Wk III)

Sometimes people are slow to understand their negative behaviour. Often it is a rude shock — such as a negative experience — that awakens us to the truth.

Hosea pleads with the people to return to God’s ways, and he rebukes them for their fickleness and sinful behaviour. He hopes that the ‘shock therapy’ will work, but he has to warn them that God cannot be manipulated or bribed by rituals or sacrifices. Only faithful love and genuine knowledge of God, as expressed in one's life, counts in God’s eyes.

Things are not always as they seem, and appearances can deceive us. For instance, by all human standards, the Pharisee in the story was moral, spiritual and upright, while the tax collector was sinful and venal.

But the parable assures us that it was the tax collector who went away righteous in God’s sight. Why? Doesn’t this turn everything upside down?

The story is not about the Pharisees; they were no more self-righteous or proud than anyone else. It is about all religious people, in every religion and every age.

It was the tax collector’s brokenness and humility that brought him healing and salvation. He had ‘hit rock bottom’, as we say, and now he could not avoid the truth any longer.

Lord, have mercy on me.

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