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  • Writer's pictureJohn M

Weekly Liturgy : October 17-23

Luke 18:9-14

The Pharisee and The Tax Collector

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet. Ford Made Brown. 1856.
Pharisee and the Publican. James Tissot. 1890.


Luke 18:9-14

(Contemporary English Version)

9Jesus told a story to some people who thought they were better than others and who looked down on everyone else:

10-12 Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.”

13 The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.”

14 Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.”



This week, our reflection comes from Sean! Here's what he says: Often, when I’ve heard this passage preached its hit a little ironically for me. “See this pharisee? See how self-righteous he his? He points out the sins of others. Bah! Thank you God I’m not like the pharisee.”

“Wait…” I tell myself. “Isn’t pointing out the pharisee’s sin just keeping the cycle of pointing out others flaws going?” Crap. “And didn’t I do it just now pointing out that preacher person who preached against someone else?” Double crap. “I just pointed out my flaws in the same way that the I pointed out the preacher person in the same way the preacher person pointed out…”on and on the merry-(not-so-merry)-go-around goes. I notice my heart racing, my jaw clenching, and I just feel stuck and somewhat frustrated.

Perhaps the point is not that the person praying humbly had it “right” (whatever that means), but that God cares deeply for the condition we find these two individuals. And that this cry, “God be merciful to me!” is unequivocally and emphatically responded to with compassion from a God who was willing to leave the “paradise of heaven” to be with God’s people in the “dust of the earth.” It’s sort of like God is the type of mother who responds to her baby with loving attention, and notices the pain caused by ignoring her baby’s distress. (Take a look at the first video below to find out more about what science tells us about that).

What if it was possible that God didn’t reject you for your flaws, and instead loved you for your needs?

What if it was possible for us to stand in awe of “what” human beings carry in our day to day lives, rather than stand in judgment for the “way” they carry it?

What if our distress is less about what is “wrong” with us, and more about what has “happened” to us?

May you, and the people you love, and the people you meet this week, experience compassion for your stress. May you be a person that offers that compassion to others.



Outward Mindset Application In every interaction today, concentrate on the needs, objectives, and challenges of others in the room. See what happens as a result.

Pathways Toward Centeredness Sensation (loving the world our senses): Find some quiet time this week to light a candle and meditate on the flame. How does its light, scent, and temporality bring you into the present moment?

Questions for Reflection What is one quality or characteristic in which you desire to experience growth? Who is someone in your life whose demonstration of humility you admire?

Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.


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