October 27, 2013: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Pharisee and The Publican
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)
The Pharisee and the tax collector probably didn’t resemble each other on the outside — and certainly they differed on the inside. The Pharisee was a braggart, boasting about how good he was. The tax collector didn’t say much, just, asked God to be merciful to him.
Who was the better “pray-er”? Jesus says it was the tax collector who was put right with God.
What about me?
Whom do I resemble — the boastful Pharisee or the humble publican?
Perhaps I need reminding that prayer time is not for patting myself on the back, but rather a time to recognize my needs before God.