Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 21 March
For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who go into the temple to pray is very powerful.
The Pharisee is filled with a sense of his own goodness, proud of how much better than others he is, especially the lowly tax collector. His prayer praises himself rather than God.
The tax collector, on the other hand, is humble. He is all too aware of his own failings and asks God for forgiveness.
Only through God's grace
We can all be like the Pharisee at times. It is too easy to compare ourselves with others and conclude that we are better.
We think we are kind and compassionate and loving. We are doing our part to help others. We are hard-working. We are faithful Christians.
But no matter who we are, there are also times when we need to be like the tax collector. We need to take time to recognise our faults and seek forgiveness for them.
We need to see that we are nothing without God, and that it is only through God’s grace that we can achieve the things that we do.
This Lent, let’s take stock of our lives. While we cannot physically attend Mass, let's make time for private prayer. Let’s take the time to seek forgiveness. For the things that we have done wrong. For the times that we have discriminated against others, even without being aware of it. And let us be open to God's grace to help us through difficult times.
Let us try to be more like the tax collector as we pray, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
Forgiving God, pour out your mercy upon me, so that I may be merciful to others. Wash away my pride and clothe me with humility. Help me to recognise that all people, no matter who they are, are precious in your sight. Amen.
Try this prayer as a step-by-step guide on what to give up this Lent – can you give up judging others, or using harsh words?
Today, International Day of Forests, you could also join our year of 'praying without ceasing' for our common home, in collaboration with Christian Aid, Tearfund and others.