Pope: Pride that judges distances us from God and undermines good deeds
"We are all taken up by the frenzy of our daily rhythms, often at the mercy of feelings, dazed, confused. We must learn how to find the path to our hearts, retrieve the value of intimacy and silence, because that's where God meets us and speaks to us". "If God favours humility, it is not to demean us: humility is rather a necessary condition to be raised by Him, so as to experience the mercy that comes to fill our emptiness”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Pride affects every good deed, empties prayer, distances us from God and from others", while the humble prayer "opens" God’s heart. This was the teaching offered by the Pope in the general audience today, commenting on the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in which "Jesus wants to teach us the correct attitude for pray and to invoke the mercy of the Father."
"Both protagonists – he told the 20 thousand people in St. Peter's Square - go up to the temple to pray, but they act in very different ways, obtaining the opposite results. The Pharisee prays "standing" (v. 11), and uses a lot of words. His is, yes, a prayer of thanksgiving addressed to God, but it is actually a display of his own merits, with a sense of superiority towards the "other men", described as "thieves, unjust, adulterers," as, for example, - and he indicates the other man who was present - "this tax collector" (v. 11). But here's the problem: the Pharisee prays to God, but in truth looks to himself. He prays to himself! Instead of having the Lord before his eyes, he has a mirror. Although located in the temple, he does not feel the need to bow before the majesty of God; standing, he feels safe, as if he is the master of the temple! He lists good works he has done: He is beyond reproach, observing the Law above and beyond requirements, he fasts "twice a week" and pays a 'tenth' of all that he has. In short, more than praying, the Pharisee congratulates himself on his observance of the precepts. Yet his attitude and his words are far removed from how to act and to speak to God, who loves all people and does not despise sinners. This man despises sinners, even when he points to the other who is there. In short, the Pharisee, who feels righteous, neglects the most important commandment: love for God and neighbor. "
"It is not enough, therefore, to ask ourselves how much we pray, we must also question how we pray, or rather, how our heart is: it is important to examine it to assess the thoughts, feelings, and eradicate arrogance and hypocrisy. But, I ask, can you pray with arrogance? No. Can you pray with hypocrisy? No. We must pray to God as we are. But he prayed with arrogance and hypocrisy. We are all taken up by the frenzy of our daily rhythms, often at the mercy of feelings, dazed, confused. We must learn how to find the path to our hearts, retrieve the value of intimacy and silence, because that's where God meets us and speaks to us. Only from there can we, in turn, meet others and talk to them. The Pharisee has set out towards the temple, he is confident, but does not realize he has lost the road to his heart. "
"But the tax collector - the other - presents himself at the temple with a humble and contrite heart," standing afar, he would not lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast "(v. 13). His prayer is very short, it is not as long as that of the Pharisee: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." Nothing more. 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner'. Beautiful prayer, eh? Can we say it three times, all together? Let's try: O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, be merciful to me a sinner. In fact, tax collectors, were considered impure people, submissive to foreign rulers, were disliked by the people and typically associated with sinners. "
"The parable teaches that people are just or sinners, not because of their social status, but because of how they relate to God and the way they act towards their brothers and sisters. The acts of penance and a few simple words of the tax collector testify to his awareness of his miserable condition. His prayer is essential. He acts humbly, he knows he is a sinner in need of pity. If the Pharisee asked nothing because he had it all, the tax collector can only beg the mercy of God. And this it's nice, huh? Begging for God’s mercy. Presenting himself with 'empty' hands, with a naked heart and recognizing himself as a sinner, the tax collector shows us all the conditions necessary to receive forgiveness from the Lord. In the end he, so despised, becomes an icon of the true believer. "
"Jesus concludes the parable with a sentence:" I tell you, this - that is, the tax collector - rather than the other, went home justified, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted "(v. 14). Of these two, who it is corrupt? The Pharisee. The Pharisee is the very icon of the corrupt pretending to pray, but only manages to preen himself in front of a mirror. He is corrupt but pretends to pray. So, in life those who believe themselves right and who judge others and despise them, are corrupt and hypocritical. Pride affects every good deed, empties prayer, distances us from God and from others. If God favours humility, it is not to demean us: humility is rather a necessary condition to be raised by Him, so as to experience the mercy that comes to fill our emptiness. If the prayer of the proud does not reach the heart of God, the humility of the poor opens it. God has a weakness: A weakness for the humble. In front of a humble heart, God opens his heart completely. This is the humility that the Virgin Mary expressed in the canticle of the Magnificat: " For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; [...]His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him"(Lk 1,48.50). Help us, our Mother, to pray with a humble heart. And we, we repeat three times more, that beautiful prayer: 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner'. Three times: 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, be merciful to me a sinner. ' "