Do This Instead Of “Trying Harder”

by Faith & Life, Gospels, Love and Relationships

Gospel of Luke 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
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.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Gospel of Luke 18:9-14

Gospel Reflection – No Man Is An Island

Recently, I was reflecting on the importance of the communities that we engage with. This can be anything from the Church we attend to the bowling league that we meet with every week. We Americans tend to have an emphasis on independence that can lead us to isolation from our neighbors not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. While independence is a good thing, it can be problematic if taken too far. No man is an island and God made us for each other. 

I often like to ask individuals if the communities they spend time with are making them the person that they want to be. Is your community making you a better spouse, parent, and Catholic? If not, it might be a good time to reevaluate how you spend your time with others. 

In this week’s Gospel, we hear the story of the man who considers himself to be above the people around him while the tax collector knows that he is in need of mercy and grace. The reality is that we are all like the tax collector in that we need these things not only from God but from the people around us. 

I was surprised at the irony recently when I looked up the origin of the phrase, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” It turns out that it is from a late 1800s physics textbook illustrating the impossibility of lifting oneself off the ground by the bootstraps. This phrase is often used to mean that we need to try harder on our own to accomplish things. However, this is not possible. We need to support and be supported by the people around us. This week, consider spending time reflecting on and evaluating your community as well as consider ways that you can support and be supported by the people in your life.

This reflection originally appeared HERE.

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