Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Let God Justify my Life, Not I

Sometimes the good people are a worry!  Imagine someone who has appreciation for a special style of Mass despises others as not Christian enough.  They have made themselves the yardstick for religiosity.  Parents being proud of well-mannered and pious children is a good thing.  But when they are keen to trumpet it out at every opportunity and belittle others, then they are like the Pharisees condemned by Jesus.

Pharisees were not bad people.  They in fact were keen to observe all religious regulations.  As a rule, Pharisees did not lie or steal neither did anything wrong.  Pharisees were hard working, honest and God-fearing people.  They prayed four times a day, gave 10% of their income to the temple.  What better can you ask from a religious person?  Yet the Pharisee who came to the temple to pray was not justified before God.  It was the tax collector, the commonly perceived sinner, who had won God’s favour.

The Pharisee thanked God for sparing him from the gross immorality and allowing him to do good things.  That is not a bad thing.  On the contrary, one should be thankful to God for the goodness God allows in his/her life.  But when the Pharisee singled out of the tax collector, he ruined the prayer with pride and scorn.  Did he have to compare himself with someone else to be thankful to God?  Because of his lack of humility and sense of righteousness, he thinks he has bought God for himself.  He is so proud that no one else can match his righteousness and good works.  Even when he praises God, he is full of himself.  There is no room in his heart for mercy or compassion.  There is no time for him to acknowledge the goodness of anyone else, let alone the Tax Collector.  Now as a good Christian whom would you like to identify with?

I suppose none of us really want to be like the Pharisee.  Yet we find pleasure in comparing ourselves with others so that we can find ourselves better than them.  We tend to think that if we are doing better than others, then we are righteous.  This kind of comparison is not Christian.  Beware the world encourages to boast about ourselves.  But we don’t go by world’s standards.  Human life is always in need of improvement and God’s grace.  We are to be like a healthy tree.

However beautifully grown a tree is, it still will have to keep growing.  The time it stops growing it will be unhealthy.  Therefore, it is important for the tree to seek nutrients and sunlight to keep growing. In the same way, irrespective of what heights we have achieved, we still will be in need of growth elements.

Humility, compassion, and charity, are the nutrients human life need to grow healthy. Just like the plants need sunlight to process the nutrients it assimilated from the soil, we need the ability to lovingly appreciate others to process the elements of humility, compassion and charity into cells of Christian life.

The more I am aware, like the tax collector, of my imperfections, the more I let God to justify my life; rather than I.