Posted October 27, 2013 by FLL Editorial Team in
 
 

He Who Humbles Himself will be Exalted

那時候,耶穌向幾個自充為義人,而輕視其他人的人,設了這個比喻:「有兩個人上聖殿去祈禱:一個是法利塞人,另一個是稅吏。

「那個法利塞人站著,心裡這樣祈禱:天主,我感謝你,因為我不像其他人,勒索、不義、姦淫,也不像這個稅吏。我每周兩次禁食,凡我所得的,都捐獻十分之一。

「那個稅吏卻遠遠地站著,連舉目望天都不敢,只是捶著自己的胸膛說:天主,可憐我這個罪人吧!

「我告訴你們:這稅吏回到他家裡,成了正義的人,而那法利塞人卻不然。因為凡高舉自己的,必被貶抑;凡貶抑自己的,必被高舉。」
路加福音 18:9-14

 © Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.

© Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.

在這主日的福音中,我們從耶穌比喻裡的法利塞人和稅吏身上,看見兩個不同和極端的例子。二人顯著的對比給我們一個良好的訓示,就是我們應該仿效稅吏,而非法利塞人的壞榜樣。法利塞人的「祈禱」完全集中在他自己身上,是個典型驕傲的人。他向自己列出對「其他人」包括對那個稅吏的控罪,然後吹噓自己的善行。

正如聖多瑪斯‧阿奎納在《論文》中提出,驕傲是「所有罪孽的開始」;它是七罪宗之首,只有謙遜的美德才可與之抗衡。由驕傲所推動的義德並沒有價值。它把人陷入地獄深處,而非提升到天堂。它導致人高舉自己並背棄上主。謙遜卻能高舉我們到成為天主兒女的神聖領域。

聖保祿提醒我們該「事事感謝」(得前5:18),舊約聖經則告誡人不該出言詆毀別人(德21:31),耶穌也教導我們不要定別人的罪(路6:37)。那個稅吏與法利塞人相反,願意痛悔己過,祈求天主的憐憫,這與舊約聖經的教導也互相呼應:「天主,你不輕看痛悔和謙卑的赤心。」(詠51:19) 稅吏的禱告自謙自卑,並重視天主永恆的憐憫,所以他能透過與天主和好,修補他因犯罪而導致他和天主關係中的裂痕。天主無法幫助不肯悔改也不求寬恕的人,所以這篇福音教我們要以稅吏的態度為榜樣。

「因為凡高舉自己的,必被貶抑;凡貶抑自己的,必被高舉。 」(路18:14)

這篇默想由生命恩泉文摘編輯小組撰寫,內容以下列文章為根據: Commentaries on the daily readings by Sacred Space, Summa Theologica(SS.Q162.A7-8), Catena Aurea on Luke 18

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.”
Luke 18:9-14

In this Sunday’s gospel reading, we are presented with two very polarising figures in the Pharisee and the tax collector. They are strikingly contrasted against each other to illustrate the good role model we should emulate in the tax collector as opposed to the bad example of the Pharisee.

The Pharisee’s ‘prayer’ was completely focused on himself, the epitome example of pride. Firstly he said it “to himself”, and proceeded to verbally attack “the rest of humanity” and the tax collector in listing out all their alleged sins. Finally, he ended by boasting of his ‘good works’.

As St. Thomas Aquinas asserts in the Summa, pride is “the beginning of all sins”. It is the primary vice of the 7 deadly sins, which can only be met by the corresponding virtue of humility.

Righteousness is worthless when driven by pride. Instead of raising us up to heaven it will instead weigh us down into the depths of hell. It leads us to the denial of God and elevates the self. Humility, on the other hand, lifts us to the divine realms as humble little children of God.

St. Paul reminds us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18) instead of slandering each other which scripture warns us against (Sirach 21:28), just as Jesus also preaches to us “do not condemn” (Luke 6:37).

In contrast to the Pharisee, the tax collector was contrite and sought God’s mercy. Once again scripture provides the answer: A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:19).

His prayer humbles himself and focuses on the eternal mercy of God, bridging the gap with Him through reconciliation and repairing the relationship that has been injured through the wounds of sin. After all, God cannot help one who does not repent and help himself by asking for forgiveness. We are simply asked to do the same.

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

This reflection is prepared by the FLL Inspire editorial team as a digest of the following two articles: Summa Theologica(SS.Q162.A7-8), Commentaries on the daily readings by Sacred Space, Catena Aurea on Luke 18


FLL Editorial Team