Prayer: – O Lord, fill me with light that I would see my sinfulness.
Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples)
The two men both arrive at the hour of prayer (either 9:00AM or 3:00PM). Three aspects mark the Pharisee – his prominent position, the sins he has avoided and his good deeds which go beyond what is prescribed.
In contrast, the tax collector stands at a distance, is considered a robber (by respectable people) and recounts no good deeds. He strikes his heart (the source of all sin). His prayers and actions actually show a total helplessness of ever correcting his life. The parable is spoken to the religiously self-confident.
Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)
Jesus spoke to those who trusted in themselves and despised others.
A Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the temple to pray. Standing, the Pharisee prayed, “I thank you, God, that I am not like the rest of men – greedy, dishonest and adulterers – as is this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give tithes on all that I possess.”
The tax collector stood afar off, not even raising his eyes to heaven. He struck his breast while saying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
I say to you that this tax collector returned to his home justified rather than the other.
Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)
1. The parable has two scenes – one in the temple and one in heaven.
2. The temple scene is familiar, two men praying.
3. What happens in heaven, however, shocks his listeners. The tax collector is justified.
4. The Pharisee sets the stage for the tax collector. He is the one who has the correct attitude and prayer.
5. The tax collector is in total despair, locked into a disreputable lifestyle and, seemingly, has no ability to change.
6. Seemingly, he has no good resolutions.
7. However, he experiences the beginning step of conversion – a broken and contrite spirit.
Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. O God, I have absolutely nothing to offer you.
2. I have no spiritual strength, no good deeds and no resolutions.
3. Yet, I dare to enter your temple of prayer.
4. I offer you only one gift – an empty heart and a broken spirit.
5. But you accept this as the first steps on my new journey.
6. Your words encourage me, “This man went home justified.”
7. Your mercy is everywhere. Even I can hope.
Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. Even in my most sinful moments, I will turn to God for mercy.
2. I will never allow the candle of my hope to go out.
Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)
This man went home justified, but the other did not.