I am sure we are all familiar with today’s Gospel reading from Luke 18:9-14. It’s the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Pharisees had regular jobs and in the evening they would spend 3 or 4 hours studying Scripture. Tax collectors were most probably Jewish people who had taken a government job collecting taxes. A tax collector would bid on a certain territory and agree to pay Rome a certain amount of money for that territory. Whatever the tax collector received over the amount promised would be his pay. As you can imagine, this lent itself to a great deal of overcharging and taking advantage of folks who could not defend themselves.
Both men enter the temple to pray. The tax collector was obviously sorry for the way he had treated people as he begs God for forgiveness for his sins. The Pharisee stands where all can see him and thanks God that he is so much better than everyone else including the tax collector.
I think all of us at one time or another could walk in the shoes of either the tax collector or the Pharisee. Sometimes we think we are better than other people and thank God that we are. Sometimes we are truly sorry for our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness.
The message of today’s Gospel is to look into our hearts and see where we are. Then, and only then, we ask God to show us how to be truly humble. We are all sinners at one time or another. The key is to explore those times and ask God to show us what he wants us to be.
Peace and All Good!