Jesus condemns the judging of others and urges a man to recognize his sinfulness in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Prayer so he can realize his spiritual poverty and pray to the Savior and by building the Virtue of Kindness so he can more perfectly bear love for others instead of false witness. 

Liturgy

30th Week in Ordinary time – Sunday –  Cycle C – Lk 18:9-14

Commentary

After warning the disciples of the coming apocalypse and urging them to persevere in prayer, with the confidence that God will answer them, Jesus explains the need for the compassionate love for others, and for personal humility in God’s economy of grace. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector describes the humble mindset a man must have in prayer to be able to receive God’s grace. 

Jesus addresses the parable towards prideful men who consider themselves pious but despise others for their sinfulness. In the parable, the Pharisee pridefully stands and prays to himself, boasting to God, and exalts his many pious ways. The Pharisee brags he exceeds the requirements for fasting (two times per week versus the required one) and tithing (tithing on everything, not just select items as specified by the Law). The Pharisee, under the guise of prayer, curses others who sin, lumping the Tax Collector in with extortioners, the unjust, and adulterers, and the Pharisee claims he is not like these other sinners. The Pharisee doesn’t love God or the Tax Collector; he loves himself.

In contrast, Jesus holds up the Tax Collector as the model for prayer. The Tax Collector stands apart, aware of his own unworthiness, with his eyes downcast in sorrow and guilt, he beats his chest (Greek word means, “to be reconciled”) in sorrow. His prayer is simple: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus praises the Tax Collector’s prayer; it is humble, respectful, sorrowful for sin, acknowledges God’s dominion and power to forgive him, and begs for God’s mercy. Jesus ominously warns, those who exalt themselves will be humbled; it is a warning of the severe and painful consequences that await the prideful.

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Marvel that Jesus, the Divine Prophet, in a short, precise and memorable parable does multiple important things: He condemns the deadly sin of Pride and judging others; He makes His own Divine Humility the model for all men who wish to find acceptance by God; Divine Priest, He lays the groundwork for the Sacrament of Penance; He makes the average humble sinner the hero of the parable while condemning the prideful religious elite as ignorant and evil.

Realize your spiritual poverty and pray to the Savior

Realize: Elsewhere, Jesus blesses men who humbly recognize their deep spiritual poverty (the “poor in spirit”; Mt 5:3) and their desperate need for God’s infinite mercy. All men need to be saved from sin by the Savior, but few realize it.

Believe: Recommit to a disciplined life of daily Humble Prayer (CCC 2559-2565).

Pray: Jesus, Savior of Man, help me build the Virtue of Prayer (a part of Justice) so I realize my deep spiritual poverty and need for salvation, and seek Your guidance and saving help each day in prayer.

Bear love instead of false witness

Realize: In addition to his sin of pride, the Pharisee breaks The 8th Commandment by bearing false witness in his vile condemnation of the Tax Collector. In today’s divisive and evil culture, many men, like the Pharisee, break The 8th Commandment by using sketchy presumptions and lies to publicly condemn individuals and whole groups of people.

Believe: Review the Offenses Against Truth (CCC 2475-2487).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Kindness (a part of Justice) so I never condemn others in my hidden thoughts or my public words and actions, and instead, feel great sorrow for those who are stuck in sin, pray for their salvation, and offer Works of Mercy when called by You to do so.