Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘I have fought the good fight’
One of the greatest obstacles to personal growth is a low self-
And if I never give myself credit for my accomplishments, never engage in positive self-
So, what are we to make of Jesus affirming the one who can describe herself/himself only as a sinner, and dismissing the one who has conscientiously set about achieving a high degree of personal virtue?
Let’s look again at the pharisee’s prayer in the light of a belief that self-
There are at least two ways of seeking to affirm oneself. I can remind myself of something good in myself or something good I have achieved – and the pharisee does that – “I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on everything I earn”. Or I can put someone else down so that I’ll look better in relation to another. The pharisee does that too – “I give you thanks, O God, that I’m not like others – greedy, crooked, adulterous – or even like this tax collector”. He seeks to make himself look good by putting others down.
A desire that leads to the breaking of relationship and the breaking of the possibility of relationship. Focusing on differences in order to elevate oneself – or one’s family or community – over others. Defining the others as different and somehow inferior, and all-
The “mutuality model” of inter-
It’s worth mentioning here because, whatever the limitations of the so-
The Apostle Paul, it seems, was not averse to reminding himself of something good in himself or something good he had accomplished. “I have fought the good fight,” he says. “I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” It’s bold talk, but it’s not sinful.
So long as he doesn’t go on to say, “and thank you God that I’m not like those other people who haven’t fought the good fight like me, me, me”. In fact, Paul goes on to say the very opposite: “Now a laurel wreath awaits me … Our God … will award it to me – and not only me, but to all who have longed for Christ’s appearing.” To all who have longed for Christ’s appearing.
There’s more. Not only does Paul include many others – even at a high point of self-
Those who will be exalted with Christ are those, like Paul, and like the tax collector in our parable, who believe that any such salvation/exaltation is God’s doing, not ours. Believing that they can’t get themselves there, no matter how good they are, they entrust themselves to God’s mercy – and to God’s support and inspiration and power – as the only possible way they might attain such a destiny.
“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” With these words we can embark on the journey of life in all its fullness, the journey to an ancient destiny, to be one with Jesus the Christ – to be one with Christ in whom all achievement acts as a medium of relationship – in whom all may be forgiven and in whom all may flourish.
Maybe we can think about allowing ourselves to be encouraged by our own accomplishments without putting others down or denying the divine gifts that make all things possible in and through us. As the oil of encouragement/blessing is offered to us we can allow ourselves to speak – aloud or in silence – of something good in ourselves, or something good we have accomplished. Let us complete the homily together. … Amen.