Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. “Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you one-tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’ I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.”
Two men, physically and socially distanced.
The righteous leader, one to be trusted, to share wisdom, in a stable and comfortable position, seen as worthy of respect and honour, publicly fasting and tithing beyond the normal requirements, standing aside, careful to maintain purity nor be unsullied by others.
The otherwise unemployed man, feeling the weight of the dishonour from both his employer the Chief Tax collector, and the people from whom he must collect tolls, despised from all sides, in a shameful position, beating his chest in anguish (as woman of the times would, further adding to his shame in this public manner.
Which of these honestly looks at his living and being, in the light of the Great Commandments?
Leaving the place of refuge and holiness to enter the harsh and truth-filled reality of house, family, and home, one maintains position and outward signs; one faces humility with honesty and grace.
Honest to you, O God,
it is easier to wear the clothes, do the tasks,
smile and nod, meet expectations
and keep up the profile in public…
yet, your calling is for utter honesty,
faithful humility and truthfulness.
It is easier to pray publicly in the safety of my Church
than to be public about my relationship with you
in the ‘church’ of all your people.
Mesh these two parts in my living and being.
Let me honestly pray through my everyday life
with the compassionate care and just practices
that reflect prayer-filled faith and Spirit led choices.
Jesus, guide me and help me to grow in grace,
so I am right with God as I enter God’s ‘home’ in all creation.
© Rev Anne Hewitt 19/10/2022
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