Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all his benefits; it is he who forgives all your sins.
Rejoicing in this annual celebration of our Lenten observance, we pray, O Lord, that with our hearts set on the paschal mysteries, we may be gladdened by their full effects. Through our Lord.
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Hosea (Hosea 6:1-6)
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgement goes forth as the light. For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm51:3-4.18-19.20-21ab
R/. I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.
Have mercy on me, O God,
According to your merciful love;
According to your great compassion,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin. R/.
For in sacrifice you take no delight;
Burnt offering from me would not please you.
My sacrifice to God, a broken spirit:
A broken and humble heart,
O God, you will not spurn. R/.
In your good pleasure, show favour to Sion;
Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in right sacrifice,
Burnt offering wholly consumed. R/.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Psalm95:7d.8a
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Today, harden not your hearts, but listen to the voice of the Lord. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
The tax collector went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 18; 9-14)
At that time: Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
The Pharisees in today’s Gospel did a lot of good things. But he was not sure whether God knew it. So he had to inform God! He lacked one very important virtue, humility. And God knew that, though the man himself didn’t. The tax collector was the exact opposite. He had done a lot of bad things. He knew it, and God knew it too. But he had the humility to acknowledge his shortcomings, and beg for forgiveness. God answered his prayer. No one is ever so good and righteous that he does not need God’s mercy. We should always approach him with a humble and contrite heart, like the tax collector.