Join us as we reflect, ponder, and pray together inspired by today's Gospel.
Reflection by Lyn Francisco
Today's Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
I’ve often heard priests say this is a difficult passage on which to build a homily. Why is that? This seems simple enough and echoes themes that are prevalent throughout Jesus’ ministry. The Pharisee is the self-righteous one, doing what he is supposed to do, never doing any wrong, living life on the straight and narrow. The tax collector, who is often reviled and seen as an outcast, is the evil sinner with whom no one wants to associate.
But look at the difference in their postures as Luke describes them: the Pharisee “took up his position” and spoke his prayer praising himself while the tax collector “stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven” as he asked for mercy for being a sinner. The Pharisee, as he enumerated all his deeds, did not say one word about giving praise and thanksgiving to God. The tax collector was expressing his repentance and asking God for mercy. We don’t know if he really repented of his ways, but he was humble enough to ask for forgiveness.
This reminds me of the Beatitudes, specifically: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Unlike the self-righteous Pharisee, where his prayer was all about him, the tax collector had nothing to offer to atone for his sins but asked for mercy for forgiveness of his sins. And for this, Jesus said he “went home justified.”
In this story of the Pharisee and the tax collector, which of the two do you relate to the most and why?
Gracious God, we come to You in good times and in bad. Help us to remember your lovingkindness as we sing your praises now and forever.
Click to tweet:
The Pharisee did not say one word about giving praise and thanksgiving to God. The tax collector expressed his repentance and asked God for mercy. He was humble enough to ask for forgiveness. #DailyGospel
Copyright 2023 Lyn Francisco
Lyn Francisco, an organic chemist by training and education, works with the Office of Undergraduate Education at Duke University. In her spare time, she occupies organ benches in churches around Durham, NC. She also serves as cantor at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham.