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The Forward Day by Day Meditation for November 21, 2020

We post a Forward Day by Day Meditation for every day of the year - and we invite you to consider them and talk about them here. If you'd like to comment, you can log in to Disqus with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google account; just click "Login," or the appropriate logo below. Or, you can sign up for a Disqus account; just use the entry form below, or click the "D" logo to start the process. You can find the past week's Meditations in the box at right (or below, for mobile users), or search for previous entries on the Archives page. You can also listen to the Forward Day by Day podcast anywhere you find podcasts!

SATURDAY, November 21                  [Mechthilde and Gertrude]

Luke 18:13 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.”

We’ve likely all heard awful sermons on this parable—and some of them were preached by me. These sermons share a complete failure to show any charity toward the Pharisee and an extreme lifting up of humility, almost to the point of idolatry.

Humility is not a bad thing; indeed, we should all strive for it. But beating up the Pharisees isn’t the way to be humble. When we do that, we are also saying, “God, I thank you that I am not like him.” The gospel in this parable is the simplicity and brilliance of the prayer of the tax collector: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

There is no artifice or pride in the tax collector’s prayer, no attempts at excuse or obfuscation, just confession and oblation: God, I have sinned. Please take my sinful self as an offering to your mercy. It is the only thing I have to offer you worthy of your grace. May we be humble enough to pray along with him.

MOVING FORWARD: Pray along with the tax collector, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Let this be your prayer during your quiet time today.

PRAY for the Dioceses of San Joaquin (USA), Dutse (Nigeria), and Kyoto (Japan)

Ps 107:33-43, 108:1-6(7-13) * 33 | Malachi 3:13—4:6 | James 5:13-20 | Luke 18:9-14

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