In this present age, we are surrounded by the increasing popular theme of comparing individuals to each other. We are captured into this theme, which leads us into comparing our selves to one another. We can often and will often compare our selves based upon, clothes, money, looks, and ways of life. This however, when done, can lead to hatred and separation of people.
In today's Gospel, this is exactly what the Pharisee does-compare. He sees himself as this wonderful Man, who follows all the rules and does all the norms. So, in his mind, he was free to judge that lying, misbehaving, and un-liked tax collector. But in his prayer, he praises himself, he makes himself the focus, and everything that he has done...But what about God?
Yes, it's great to be the one that follows all the rules and make sure we don't break any of them. But the biggest thing is admitting to it, when we don't. Look at the Tax collector, he knew he had done wrong, and he knew he was looked has a shameful person. In the Gospel we are told that he, " But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed" He beat his breast. This was/ is a sign in the time of Jesus to mean that you have done something terribly wrong and you were in extreme misery.
The tax collector admits to what he has done. He has opened himself to the Lord, and is focused on the Lord. Notice, the difference in how they pray, the tax collector praying with arms crossed among the chest and looking down. (Very traditional) He is focused on God, and is wanting forgivness. Whereas, the proud pharisee does the exact opposite. He prays as to attract attention, that he is praying. He is more focused on the image of praying than praying its self.
When we pray, we open our selves to God. We ask for forgiveness, and God will clean us through. As we prepare our selves to pray we should collect our selves and our thoughts-have no distractions. It is in real, full heart, and mind settled prayer that grows our Faith;that kindles the fire. When we pray just to say we pray, we don't get anything out of it. We keep our heart and our mind closed. Prayer will open us to God, if we actually pray for the sake of connecting to God.
We often will catch our selves comparing our self to something or someone else. But only sadness and hatred result of that. But instead of comparing, be glad with who you are. Praise God for the life you have, regardless of state. God gave us each a different life to experience and learn new and diverse things. You cannot compare fully. You and that person are two totally different people.
May we learn not to compare, but to give our selves fully to God in prayer. May our prayer, be a prayer of confession and praise. Confess of our sins but Praise for all the things we have. God is great. So let us pray because he is great, and not to say that 'we prayed.' but let us put an honest effort into our prayer.