Take a moment to read this well-known text. I wonder if you see what I saw for the first time today:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector…The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind… The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
I wonder if you noticed what I noticed?
The proud Pharisee “said this prayer to himself” and the humble tax collector beat his breast and addressed God.
And in that simple sentence lies both the problem and the solution: the Pharisee was focussed on himself, the tax collector on God.
All stress in life comes from too much looking at ourselves.
The deep and enduring solution to every stress is found not in ourselves but in God.
The message for me today?
In every situation, turn to Jesus who is God-with-us.
As I write, late Friday evening of the Annunciation, I just come from the hospital bedside of a woman who has faith-fully and patiently suffered poor health for many years.
As I chatted with the family we acknowledged that the possibility of their loved one dying was real.
We talked about matters of life and death, and we prayed at the bedside – the Joyful mysteries of the Rosary for the Feast of the Annunciation, remembering Mary’s words as she turned to God (after initially being puzzled about how all that the angel promised could happen): “Mary said, let what you have said be done to me”.
As we concluded our prayer we remembered Mary’s words, grateful for the reminder to talk not just to ourselves or among ourselves, but to, in every situation, turn to Jesus who is God-with-us.
And let what you have promised us O God, be done to us, for us, through us, and in us.