Luke 18: 10-14
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We all know people who brag or who constantly talk about themselves, never asking about you or your family. And when we leave them, we thank God that we are not like them. It is at that point that we have become the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable.
You see, the tax collector never said, “Lord, thank you that I am not like that other person”. It was the Pharisee who said that. It was the Pharisee, like us, who could not see his own faults because his own light was shining so brightly in his eyes.
We identify with the tax collector in this story, but Jesus was telling us that we are the Pharisee and we don’t even know it.
Let us shut our eyes. Let us pray with our heads bowed. With all sincerity and humility, thinking of nothing but God’s love and forgiveness, let us whisper “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” Now, we are the tax collector.
May the love of Christ be with you
Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)