Daily Prayers for Lent from CPLO and the Jesuit Institute 15 March – Week Two – Virtue can become vice
Lenten Prayer Reflections by Ron Boudreaux SJ
“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 everyone else, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” 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.” This man, I tell you, went home again justified; the other did not.”(Luke 18:10-14)
We can become so proud of our own virtue, that the virtue becomes the fault. We see this often in those who claim to be most holy. Often, they see themselves as better than others. Even in their sinfulness, which they are ready to acknowledge, they claim that someone else’s sin is so much greater than their own. “I know this is wrong, but what he did is so much worse! I’m not as bad as he is.” We judge, even sometimes without saying a word. Inside we can be full of venom while the outward appearance is one of kindness.
O, God of all goodness, on my own, I can do nothing good.
Teach me to accept with all humility my own lowliness as your creature.
Your will be done, not mine.