Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost (Oct 23rd)

Pastor's Summary of Luke 18:9-14

Luke has presented Jesus telling a parable about a judge and a widow. Even the uncaring judge listens to a petition, eventually; when Christ comes again, he will hear and answer the prayers of the faithful with due alacrity. Now Jesus tells a parable to :some" who take a legalistic approach to Judaism: "they were righteous", pious. Pharisees kept the Law scrupulously-both written and aural, so they must be acceptable to God! (The unwritten law formed a protective shell round Mosaic law, reducing the chances of ever erring to the point of transgressing the real law.) Like the Pharisee in the story, they were fastidious in their observation of ritual practices: they fasted on Mondays and Thursdays, and tithed (v. 12): they were seen to be religious. But their pride in keeping the Law led them into self-righteousness ("trusted in themselves", v. 9), self-importance, and arrogance ("regarded others with contempt"). On the other hand, tax collectors were despised for collaboring with the Roman occupiers. At this point, Jesus' hearers would be cheering for the Pharisee, especially since most were followers of the Pharisaic party. The tax collector admits he is a sinner (v. 13), repents ("beating his breast") and seeks God's mercy. In v. 14, Jesus explains the example story: the tax collector goes home "justified", accepted by God, acquitted in God's court of justice, for he has recognized his need for God's mercy-but not the Pharisee. In the kingdom, roles will be reversed: God receives those who turn to him and implore his mercy; he rejects those who parade their supposed virtues. We should receive the Kingdom as a child does (v. 17).