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The Jesus Prayer

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Begin by reading this reflection.

We know, because Jesus tells us, that our prayer ought to be like the tax collector's. To be in right-relationship with God, we need to look truly at ourselves, and at the same time, keep our focus on God.

It is easy to separate the world into two groups of people:

  • those who are like the Pharisee--who do good things and know it, who compare themselves to others and congratulate themselves for being better;

  • those who are like the tax collector--who seek to make things right between themselves and God by asking for God's mercy because they have sinned.

But I wonder, if we try to separate the world this way, aren't we in some way being like the Pharisee? Aren't we judging people, deciding who knows they are a sinner, and who does not?

I wonder if we might do better to consider whether sometimes we are like the Pharisee, and other times, we are like the tax collector?

We do good things, right? We want to do these things, we like doing them -- because we do them for God. This is good. But, do we also sometimes compare ourselves to others, thinking about how much more good we are doing than they are?

Can any of us, ever, give God enough--God who gives us everything in abundance--life, love, forgiveness, mercy?

It is difficult not to compare ourselves with others, but Jesus tells us that when we pray, our eyes must be only on ourselves and on God--a private conversation. How close we are to God when God gazes on us, and we gaze on God!

The tax collector's prayer has become known as "the Jesus prayer."

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

That prayer has 12 words. We can make it simple again, and pray like the tax collector:

Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Let's each try to pray that prayer each day this week, okay? See how it makes us feel.

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