Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
Today’s gospel reading tells the story of two people in the temple, one person who is rather quick with self-praise and the other who recognizes that sinfulness is very much a part of his life. The jury is not out too long in terms of who is closer to the Kingdom of God. Now the interesting twist to this parable (and all parables have sort of “twist” or something that is extra-ordinary) is the fact that the man who Jesus considers justified before the eyes of God is the penitent tax collector. Now you need to recall that this story is being told during Roman occupied Judea. So a tax collector is basically a traitor who has cozied up to the enemy to make money. In the time of Jesus, a tax collector was about as low as you could get. So when Jesus identified this man as justified, this designation probably caused some controversy.
According to classical literature, the phrase “Know Thyself” was inscribed on the wall of the temple of Delphi as a sure path to both wisdom and peace. The Jesuits frequently turned to classical literature and found in its expressions and way of life viable means for fulfilling what they saw as the ultimate end of human existence: union with God. The importance and utility of this starting point of reflection encouraged Ignatius to establish it as one of the important points of his daily Examination of Conscience. Recognizing one’s weakness has been one of the surest forms of moving towards God because a true reflection leads to the knowledge of human dependency on God, not on total self-worth.