Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’
Friends, once again it is my pleasure to invite you to journey with us through the forty days of Lent. These daily readings, reflections, and prayers are offered as a gift from all of us at Washington National Cathedral in the hope that you will find in these offerings a little glimpse of the Holy, a little food for the journey, as we make our way to the cross and the empty tomb. We hope these emails will be touchstones for you, daily reminders of what is most important, and a means through which you can strengthen your spiritual life. God bless you during this season of Lent and thank you for being a part of our Cathedral family.
Our reading for this morning is a reminder that our first order of business as we embark on these forty days is to acknowledge that we don’t know as much as we think we do, we aren’t as right about everything as we think we are, and before we can talk about the speck in our neighbor’s eye, we need to address the log in our own. In other words, Lent needs to begin with confession and enough humility to admit that we all have a lot to learn. As a person who enjoys enormous privileges in this life, I know that I am someone who has fallen short in thought, word and deed, as the Prayer Book says. I need to listen more and assume less. I have done and left undone numerous things for which I need forgiveness. Will you join with me today and make a right beginning of this season of Lent with an honest and heartfelt confession? God is listening, God knows our hearts, and God knows how much we need it.
Merciful Lord, I have sinned; against You, and others, and myself, in thought and word and deed. I am very sorry. I need and I beg Your forgiveness. I will do my level best not to repeat these sins of commission and omission that I admit to and lay before You now. Please forgive what I have done in selfish blindness. Please set me free from the prisons of my own self-delusions and self-impositions. Please help me do the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times.
(The Rev. Alan Houghton, From the Pen of a Parson, August 3, 1995)