“Two People go Into a Bar… um … I mean temple, and the 1st one says … !” – Lk 18:10-14†


Finishing the 4th week of Lent.  Wife and kids are in Oklahoma, and I home to baby sit the minagerie of animals.  St. Francis was known for his relationship with animals.  I wonder if there is a connection with him and my family.  We’ve had, at one time or another, just about every animal except a snake and monkey.

  

Today’s reflection is about attitudes towards each other, and your faith.

  

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

When praying, don’t give God instructions – just report for duty.

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’  But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (NAB Lk 18:10-14)

 

Who really is the unrighteous one here; the sinner or the Jewish religious leader?  People today are put into situations that make them appear as homeless beggars, or even worse.  I know of several friends who have, or will lose their homes, for various reasons.  Unemployment rates haven’t been this bad since the great depression.  Jobs are leaving this country in droves, just for capital gains.

Our government is not listening to the people, and the people have “turned off” the government as communist thieves.  In reality, to some extent, we are all to blame for today’s social and economic problems.  Everyone needs to take a big breath, and start to work together. 

The tax collector beats his breast.  This is not boastful acting on his part, for others to see, or an imitation of “Cheetah” from a Tarzan movie.   The beating of the chest is a common sign of repentance to the Jewish people of Jesus’ time, and even now.  If you watch closely, you may even see it today in both Jewish Temples and Catholic Churches (watch the older Catholics during the Eucharistic Prayer: they may strike their chest three separate times towards the beginning). 

The tax collector is obviously and sincerely sorry for his actions.  The Pharisee, to me, is just going through a mindless act as part of his “duties” as a temple priest.  The former is honest, sincere, and sorrowful; and the latter is not only lying, he is deceiving and hypocritical in his faith.

God has a sense of humor, and loves to show it to us.  The tax collector will be acquitted at God’s court of justice in heaven.  He recognized his need of God’s mercy, and has shown sorrow for his sins.  He loves God above all. 

The Pharisee doesn’t need God’s justification and mercy.  He has his own, and forgives himself with great pride.  He’s doing all the work, and doesn’t need God.  He loves himself above all, including God. 

“Lord, give me a faith of that tax collector.  Please keep my heart from hardening as the Pharisee has hardened.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO 

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: Bl. Agnello of Pisa 

 

The founder of the English Franciscan province, Blessed Agnello, was admitted into the Order by St. Francis himself on the occasion of his sojourn in Pisa. He was sent to the Friary in Paris, of which he became the guardian, and in 1224, St. Francis appointed him to found an English province; at the time he was only a deacon. Eight others were selected to accompany him. True to the precepts of St. Francis, they had no money, and the monks of Fecamp paid their passage over to Dover. They made Canterbury their first stopping place, while Richard of Ingworth, Richard of Devon and two of the Italians went on to London to see where they could settle. It was the winter of 1224, and they must have suffered great discomfort, especially as their ordinary fare was bread and a little beer, which was so thick that it had to be diluted before they could swallow it. Nothing, however, dampened their spirits, and their simple piety, cheerfulness and enthusiasm soon won them many friends. They were able to produce a commendatory letter from Pope Honorius III, so that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Steven Langton, in announcing their arrival, said, “Some religious have come to me calling themselves penitents of the Order of Assisi, but I called them of the Order of the Apostles.” In the meantime, Richard of Ingworth and his party had been well received in London and hired a dwelling on Cornhill. They were now ready to push on to Oxford, and Agnello came from Canterbury to take charge of the London settlement. Everywhere the Friars were received with enthusiasm, and Matthew Paris himself attests that Blessed Agnello was on familiar terms with King Henry III. Agnello is thought to have died at the age of forty-one, only eleven years after he landed at Dover, but his reputation for sanctity and prudence stood high amongst his fellows. It is stated that his zeal for poverty was so great that “he would never permit any ground to be enlarged or any house to be built except as inevitable necessity required.” He was stern in resisting relaxations in the Rule, but his gentleness and tact led him to be chosen in 1233 to negotiate with the rebellious Earl Marshal. His health is said to have been undermined by his efforts in this cause and by a last painful journey to Italy. Opon his return he was seized with dysentery at Oxford and died there, after crying out for three days, “Come, Sweetest Jesus.” The cult of Blessed Agnello was confirmed in 1892; his feast is observed in the Archdiocese of Birmingham today and by the Friars Minor on the eleventh.  Feast day is March 13

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #13:

 

As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.  A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.

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