Gospel Reflections - Luke 18:9-14 - March 18, 2023 - Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Gospel Reflections - Luke 18:9-14 - March 18, 2023 - Saturday of the Third Week of Lent


    Luke 18:9-14

    Jesus addressed this parable
    to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
    and despised everyone else.
    “Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
    one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
    The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
    ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — 
    greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
    I fast twice a week,
    and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
    But the tax collector stood off at a distance
    and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
    but beat his breast and prayed,
    ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
    I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
    for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
    and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


    In the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14, we find a parable of Jesus about a Pharisee and a tax collector who pray in the Temple. The Pharisee exalts himself before God, thanking Him that he is not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like the tax collector next to him. Meanwhile, the tax collector humbly prays, beating his breast and asking for God's mercy for his sins. "I tell you," Jesus concludes, "this sinner, not the Pharisee, went home justified before God."

    This Gospel is a powerful reminder to us of the importance of humility in our relationship with God. It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we are better than others because of our level of piety, knowledge of the scriptures, or good works, as the Pharisee did in this parable. We may even use these things as a way to judge and condemn others, and even to justify ourselves before God.

    Yet, Jesus is clear in this Gospel that it is not our external actions or accomplishments that matter to God, but the state of our hearts. If we are humble, acknowledging our sinfulness and dependence on God's mercy and grace, we too can be justified before Him. Just as the tax collector was honest about his need for forgiveness, we too must be honest about our own faults and failings, and turn to God in repentance and humility.

    As we reflect on this Gospel, we can examine our own hearts and ask ourselves honestly: am I more like the Pharisee, exalting myself before God and others, or the tax collector, acknowledging my need for His mercy and forgiveness? Let us pray for the grace of humility, so that our hearts may be open to receive His love and mercy, and that we may glorify Him through our words and actions.


    Dear Heavenly Father,

    We come to you with humble hearts, acknowledging that we are sinners in need of your mercy and grace. We praise you for your unfailing love and goodness, which you freely bestow upon us despite our unworthiness.

    As we reflect on the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14, help us to learn from the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Teach us to approach you with humility and repentance, just like the tax collector who cried out for mercy and went home justified.

    Forgive us for our pride and self-righteousness, and make us mindful of our own sinfulness. May we never look down on others or think that we are better than them. Instead, may we seek to serve and love others as Jesus did.

    We pray for your grace to transform our hearts and minds, so that we may live our lives in a way that honors you and brings glory to your name. Help us to walk in humility, always seeking your will and relying on your strength.

    In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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