- Joel 2:23-32
- Psalm 65
- 2 Timothy 4:6-8; 16-18
- Luke 18:9-14
Parables have a way of pointing to a deeper truth with very few words. Today’s parable speaks to the heart of human nature in relationship to God and to one another. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is unique to Luke, and provides further teaching on prayer and patterns of reversal. Jesus sets up a comparison between the spiritual pride of the Pharisee and the humility of the tax collector.
The failure of the Law alone to justify, the evil of pride, the mercy of God and the universality of salvation are exemplified. Jesus challenges us to place ourselves in this parable.
In the Episcopal Church, confession and penitence are part of every worship service. Even when there is not a specific prayer of confession at the service, the Eucharistic prayers and other prayers in the Book of Common Prayer include an acknowledgment of sin. Congregational life is balanced between joy and praise on the one hand and a constant awareness of the need for repentance and renewal on the other. The congregation lives in the light of the coming day of judgment.
The Holy Spirit is life that gives life, moving all things. It is the root in every creature and purifies all things, wiping away our sins, anointing our wounds. It is radiant life, worthy of praise, awakening and enlivening all things. Hildegard of Bingen
- Who are some contemporary representatives of the Pharisee and tax collector?
- Compare the prayers of these two men, as well as their physical actions while praying. What do you think each of these men might have been thinking as he prayed?
- What does it mean to be “justified”?
- What does this story suggest about our relationship with God? About confession, grace, and mercy? What conventional assumptions about piety are called into question with this parable? What are the inherent warnings here for us today as we strive for deeper spiritual awareness?