This weekend is Saturday the 26 and Sunday the 27 September, beginning the Twenty Sixth Week of Ordinary Time.
O Lord, my heart is not proud. As I enter into prayer now, can I put aside for a moment my pride, any sense of self-importance I may have, and place myself humbly into the hands of my God, who knows all my faults and failings and loves me still?
Today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew paints a vivid account of what it means to do the will of the Father, as well as remind us of the kinds of unlikely people who might reach heaven before us.
‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
Jesus has shocking words here for the chief priests and the elders, “tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you.” Imagine for a moment what they thought when he said this. Imagine what they had believed about themselves and their standing in the eyes of God.
Judging by the strength of Jesus’s language, it seems that, in his book, self-righteousness is one of the most serious sins. But it’s an easy sin to fall into – especially for people who like the idea of being virtuous… which means most of us. Where do you see that temptation to self-righteousness in your life?
Try to picture the scene as this gospel passage is read again - the looks on their faces, the tone of voice, the reactions, the shock…. What did you notice most about this scene?
What has struck you or moved you in this time of prayer? With God you can be completely honest, so bring this before the Lord now, sharing with him your innermost feelings.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.