YOU not me

Mar 26, 2022


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.



  1. A wonderful reminder for me this morn Thanks Fr John

  2. A new slant on “said to himself” – I had thought of it as equivalent to “in his head” or “under his breath”.
    It makes so much more sense to understand that he was praying to himself! Help me dear Lord to become more Jesus-centred rather than self-centred. Thank you for this, John.

  3. Nga Mihi


  4. Yes, the sin of Adam has distanced us from God. Let us be generous instead of grasping, let us reach out to God for forgiveness of our injustices, out infidelities. Let us feel the touch of God again.

  5. Many thanks John, I so believe that the blessing of,Life in all its fullness depends on where our Focus is, who we are gazing at. Thank you for this timely reminder to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Blessings on you and your Ministry.
    Judith Anne

  6. Thank you John for giving me this wonderful prayer – “In every situation, let me turn to Jesus who is God-with-us” !


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

my word your home

my word your home

The heart of the home in years past was the hearth.
It was at the hearth that the family gathered for the warmth and light of the flame and the food that was prepared there.
The fire was treated with respect since the same flame which provided energy for the home could just as easily destroy it.

stand up look up

stand up look up

The Israelites in their forty years in the desert were journeying from captivity to freedom, but the struggle of their desert years made them vulnerable to attack from every temptation as today’s first reading continues

confident in God

confident in God

I’m not sure if children today are told the great story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, but if not let’s make sure that the parable is taught at all schools of higher learning.

the teenagers

the teenagers

A few years ago I discovered the wonderful way that God uses my imagination in my prayer.
Such openness to imagination when seeking God does not take us away from reality into fantasy but instead brings me into what is most real and inescapably personal and intimate.



A couple of thousand years ago, a young Jewish woman was going about her normal morning routines, perhaps with a mixture of house and garden work, chatting with parents and neighbours, aware of the local drought, the sickness of a neighbour and annoyed by the neighbourhood’s lack of sleep caused by the Romans’ noisy party the night before, when God broke into her routine and entered her life in a new and powerful way.