“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Last year at a Christmas dinner, a very proud and loving father sat next to his future daughter-in-law, who was sitting across from her future husband, the man’s amazing son. After dessert and before presenting her with his Christmas gift, he turned to her and gently said, “All I want for you to remember today is that I have been praying for you even before I met you. That means I have been loving you without knowing you all this time.” What he did for her and his son, and by extension, all of us is to give a poignant example of pure love that extends into Heaven. It means that trust and love, and responsibility go hand in hand with developing a powerful and lasting relationship with God and with all who believe that love is the answer to the question of how we arrive in Heaven forever:
In the Gospel passage, however, we saw the supreme ugliness of hypocrisy even being practiced in a holy place: “The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.”
The result was disastrous. There is no faith, miracles, healing, or justification for the proud Pharisee. The lesson seems clear enough: nobody wins when we overstep our relationship with the Lord either by trying to “play God” or reduce faith by arrogant grabs for wisdom and insight. Thank God we have a God who loves us and is always ready to forgive. As we continue our Sabbath experience and begin a new week, let us pray for faith that is built on trust in the One who never stopped loving us, even while we were in the womb.
You’d never know. There are people who pray for you without your presence and without your knowledge. Perhaps those prayers save you many times in your life. You’d never know. Stay humble.