Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
This weekend will be a time of festivity for many Catholics. Today we commemorate the life of St. Patrick, the great missionary bishop who brought Christianity to the Celtic people and who stands today as the revered patron of all Irish Catholics. On Monday, we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin and Foster Father of Jesus. Smack dab in the middle of these two moments of celebration is Laetare Sunday, the midpoint of our Lenten journey. In the midst of the Irish parades and the St. Joseph tables and the rose colored vestments of Laetare Sunday, we get a little respite from the Lenten discipline of fasting and abstinence. Enjoy!
In the midst of all the celebrating, today's Gospel reminds us that good people can often forget where the goodness comes from. The parable in today's Gospel presents us with two men, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The story that Jesus tells about these two men reminds us that it is possible to do the right things for the wrong reasons. The Pharisee was by definition a good man. He did all that was asked of him. However he had forgotten that it was God's grace in his life which had accomplished the goodness, and he had begun to think that he was responsible for it.
We are all called to cooperate with the grace that God showers upon us. When we do cooperate, we are responding to the universal call to holiness. However, without God's grace, we would not be able to respond at all. If we are holy, if we are good, it is because of what God has accomplished in us. It is a gift, pure and simple. Without it, we would be lost.
As we reach this midpoint in Lent, this parable is a sobering reminder that even if we have persevered in our Lenten penances, we still cannot take the credit for it. God's grace is solely responsible.