Friday, October 25, 2013

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

This week, in our gospel from Luke, we turn to the often-discussed parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector who are both praying in the Temple.  Once again, Jesus is critical of the self-oriented, arrogant, proud Pharisee who seems to be most concerned with his appearance, his "public spirituality," and his comparisons with others, in this case, with the Tax Collector.  

And then there is the Tax Collector, who for those hearing the story would immediately make them think of the crooked way that Tax Collectors stole from the people in order to line their own pockets, and also support the Roman oppression of Israel.  Tax Collectors were held in pretty low esteem, and were certainly "sinners" as they stole from the poor and gave to the rich, and got rich in the process.  So, once again in Luke's gospel, we see Jesus making a great reversal, embracing paradox, and certainly shocking his hearers with this story.  


God wants us to have an open heart, to practice forgiveness, to open ourselves up to God, and to our neighbors.  God wants us to place ourselves in a position where we might be humble before our Lord and Maker.  God wants us to look deeply within ourselves and admit that we mess up, we ruin things, we screw up royally.  You see, God already knows what we're up to; God already knows us down to our bones.  God even knew that the Tax Collector was a terrible crook, the reverse of Robin Hood - that he was one who stole from the poor and gave to the rich.  God knew the Tax Collector.  God knows us.  And loves us anyway.

God knows us.  And loves us anyway.

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