Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“One holy woman tells us: “Imitate the publican and you will not be condemned along with the Pharisee.”

Something I think about when I read something like this is how quickly I am to identify with the Publican and repudiate the Pharisee.  When I hear the Parable of the Ten Virgins, I naturally identify myself with the Five Wise Virgins.

Truth of the matter is that I am probably more like the Pharisee and the Five Foolish Virgins.  I don’t want to think that about myself.  But isn’t the reason Jesus tells us these things is because we really do have to consider that we might indeed be far more like the Pharisee and the Five Foolish Virgins then we are like the Publican and the Five Wise Virgins?

What is it about the Publican that we are to imitate?

Luke 18:9-14New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 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.”

To whom does Jesus address His words?  “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else” which is ver easy to do, isn’t it?  There are snares and traps for us every day.  We can think we are better than someone else when we rejoice that we use our turn signals and others don’t, for example. Isn’t that exactly like the Pharisee’s words, thanking God he is not like other people who break the law?

What does the publican do? He thumps his chest with his fist, prays for mercy, and confesses that he is a sinner.

Let us pray  ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

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