To be baptised is to be sent, as in sent out into the world. To be called (vocation) by God is to receive a mission. To be chosen and loved is to receive a responsibility to our brothers and sisters. There is a connection between the gift of God and His people. God is aiming at all of us even as He approaches one of us more closely. Always! We need only think of the Virgin Mary in order to understand that her privilege was a gift that was meant to enrich every single one of us. There are no exceptions! Jesus is God and man. His humanity is enriched with every possible gift and it is thus the source wherein we all receive “grace upon grace”. He is God’s only son, but through His cross we have ALL become “sons in the Son”. Every talent and gift is destined to be used in charity and thus benefit our brothers and sisters.
That is why the Pharisee’s attempt at prayer in today’s gospel is so disappointingly ugly and fails so miserably. Were his words to be accurate they would still ultimately be rendered meaningless. Virtues and good living are not meant to lead us into pride. Notice that the Pharisee literally prays to himself!!! He makes a list of his qualities and achievements and calls that prayer. He is simply justifying himself. Then, he turns to his neighbor, the tax collector, and compares himself to him. This parable is meant to show us what behavior we must avoid at all costs. If you are fortunate enough to recognise God’s blessings in your life, ask God for the strength to understand why He has blessed you with a good life and many accomplishments.
It is never too late to dive more deeply into the waters of your baptism! You were baptised not only for your own salvation. You are gifted not only for your own benefit. Never forget that you were baptised so that you would be sent towards your brothers and sisters. You are loved by the Father just like Jesus is, and just like Him, you are sent!
“As the Father has loved me, so I love you” (John 15:9)
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21)
Fr Sean Mary