Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gospel Text for Sunday, October 24th

Luke 18:9-14

Jesus 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."

1 comment:

  1. Luke 18.9-14 Pharisee and the Tax Collector

    I notice that two Jewish men have gone to the temple for the hour of prayer, a Pharisee and a tax collector. Pharisees were generally considered to be religious people, loyal and faithful Jews whose piety distinguished them from the depravity of the Greeks. Tax collectors were considered an undesirable lot who collected money for their Roman oppressors and cheated the people by adding fees to the taxes.

    Jesus’ parable must have seemed scandalous to the Jews who listened to the story. How could Jesus exalt a common crook who was working for the Romans? What was Jesus thinking berating the faithful, Torah studying, pious, tithe giving Jew? God’s justice seems unjust. But that is only so if I, like the people to whom Jesus addressed this parable, trust in my self and my judgments and demand that God operate in accord with social conventions and rules of law. Jesus turns all that upside down!

    I find it astonishing and incredibly challenging. Jesus doesn’t want me to stand before God and count my virtues to prove my worthiness. Jesus wants me to count my sins and ask God for mercy. The fact is, there is nothing I can do to be worthy of God’s grace and goodness towards me. Jesus wants me to present my self to God just the way I am and I do know that I am a sinner. Every day I don’t do the good I want to and do the evil I don’t want to do. My anger and envy and pride swell up along with fear, judgments and self satisfaction.

    O Lord, help me to be humble as the tax collector. Be merciful to me for I am a sinner.