This Sunday´s homily is on Luke 18:9-14. The keyword is humility
Christianity is different from other religions. We don’t need to carry out certain practices or go through certain rites to be saved. We are not justified by our own power. We won’t be saved by acquiring a level of perfection through penance and sacrifice. Our salvation is a free gift given by God. We are saved by grace through Jesus Christ who died and rose again, pouring out his blood for our redemption. We have been saved not because of what we do but because of what God has done for us. We have been saved by grace and this is not our doing.
The Pharisee stood on his own merit, “I fast two days a week, I give a tenth of all my income to the temple” He thought he would be saved and justified by his own practices. But salvation is not about merits and credits. The tax collector knew his need of God, asked for his help and waited on his reply: God has mercy on me. Salvation comes from God who saves us by his mercy. Only by the mercy of God are we saved. God acts on our behalf, out of pure mercy. We don’t deserve anything; we have nothing to boast of. Our Salvation comes from God who has stretched out his hand to us. We are like this tax collector, a beggar who implores mercy, who opens his hands and his heart to be saved and to receive God’s mercy. We acknowledge the free gift of God’s mercy through Jesus Christ, freely accepted and freely received. When we were sinners we were deprived of his grace by our sins. We have been saved freely by his grace.
Even today misunderstandings exist on this subject. Pope Francis calls this new Pelagianism (GE 47-59). He criticizes this pharisaic way of thinking that salvation comes from our merits and works, those who trust in their own strength and power to acquire salvation. They think religion is about following prescription and rules. We must avoid the attitude of the Pharisee thinking we are superiors to others and judging them: I am not like these sinners. Jesus himself says that they neither enter themselves nor let other enter. In this parable Jesus condemns those who are sure of their own righteousness and despise everybody else and exalts those who have a humble heart.
Fr Dario SEMD, October 27th, 2019