God, be merciful to me, a sinner

Two men go to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee wants to tell God about all his good works; fasting, paying tithes to the Temple and keeping all the commandments of the Law. The Pharisee feels proud of himself – in fact, the parable tells us that he was saying his prayer ‘to himself.’

Tax collectors, on the other hand, were despised as traitors; they collected taxes from their own people on behalf of the Roman rulers. The tax collector in the parable stays humbly in the background and prays for God’s mercy.

Why does Jesus teach his disciples that, of the two men, the tax collector was the one who ‘went home at rights with God?’ Because pride is a barrier to our relationship with God. As long as we are proudly counting up our good works and comparing ourselves to others, we are blind to our need for God’s mercy. The tax collector knew that he was a sinner, and in his prayer he humbly asked for God’s forgiveness. The parable teaches us that the tax collector’s prayer should be our prayer too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *