Perhaps you have heard this song… In our gospel reading for this Sunday October 23, 2022 we hear Jesus tell a parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector. In our weekly Lectio Divina Wednesday morning bible study the song above was referenced. I found this version of it with the Muppets for your entertainment. The preface to the parable states, “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:”.
We live in a time where there is a lot of contempt. I have also been reflecting on the temptation to trust in oneself. When years ago I heard someone share that they reserved the word trust to be used for God alone it struck a chord.
As a way to be “right sized” and not put myself or others in a position where my trust is in a human has been an ongoing journey of learning humility. I have learned to get clearer in my language- am I using the word “trust” when I want to indicate that someone is consistent in their words and actions or that they show up on time? To reserve the word trust for God has helped me to see the connection between trusting and the commandment to have no other gods and to love God with my whole heart and my whole self.
To know that no human being, especially myself, is ultimately trustworthy in the manner that God is- has set me free to trust God alone and love people. I can then let go of judging others and myself and leave the judgment up to God. When I heard a definition of humility as being teachable it provided another way for me to reconcile that humility is not putting myself down or humiliation. Jesus taught many things in parables. With twists and turns he invited his followers to be teachable.
This week with humor, grace and curiosity I can listen for the ways that I need to continue to learn and grow. How can I practice humility; being teachable and right sized? It’s real freedom to be able to trust in God to whom I can admit my shortcomings trusting God’s grace and mercy. It lets me see when I fall into that trap of thinking we are all on ladders- others are rungs above me or rungs below me. I can keep an eye out for my self righteousness and contempt of others which are barriers to entering into the love of God that has for me and for all people. Instead, by accepting the invitation to get off the ladder and into the circle with all of creation and humanity whom God has created- I enter into a resting place of deep peace where I trust God to be God. Humility reminds me what is and is not my job... judging belongs to God, loving myself and others- Jesus commanded it, gave it to me as my job.
To live out from this love which has breathed life into creation and each of us ~is to allow space then to live out from for the opposites of contempt; respect, love and cherishing one another. It doesn’t mean to accept unacceptable behavior. It does mean, that I let go of thinking it’s my job to judge others. It sets us free to not place ourselves above or below others; we can connect from a place of common humanity. We can learn and grow in discerning how to live in community, holding one another accountable from a place of respect and concern.
When we start from a place of trust in God; trusting that we are deeply loved by the God who has created all of us in God’s image, we then get to continue to be teachable, to grow and mature, learn and discern through the many twists and turns life takes.