Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
Readings: Hosea 5:15 – 6:6; Luke 18:9-14
“[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’” (Luke 18:9-14)
Jesus is challenging the religious elite’s ‘truth’ about who God is and how God sees things. Religious people are not the only ones who do not like to have their truth challenged. In any culture, the group who gets to define what is true holds a considerable amount of power and influence.
In the debates about what is true, scientists have become high priests. Without a doubt, science has an enormous amount to contribute to our understanding of our world and universe. However, ‘scientific fundamentalism’ is to be avoided.
Fundamentalism is the worldview that holds that only ‘my’ way of understanding reality is of value. The thought that other philosophies, religions, or worldviews might have something to contribute is almost impossible for the fundamentalist to concede. The view that science is the sole judge of what is true is, ironically, fundamentalist.
Scientific fundamentalism is problematic for Catholics. We agree that science has an essential role to play in understanding the universe and everything in it. However, faith concerns the universe and everything outside it. God is beyond the tenets of the scientific paradigm. The microscope and the telescope do not capture God.
For the Catholic, truth is not merely a thing to be pursued, captured or even fully understood. Instead, Truth is a person with whom we are invited to enter into a relationship: he who said of himself, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. That which is true, is true to the degree that it reflects and participates in God. To know this, we need the humility of the tax collector.
Reflection by Shane Dwyer.
Reproduced with permission from Evangelisation Brisbane, an agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, who have kindly supplied these daily Lenten 2021 reflections from their publication Look to Jesus: 52 Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter.