Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
I was reminded recently in a homily that sometimes we have become so familiar with the stories of Scripture that they often do not have the same impact that they did originally. Think of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the parable as recorded in Chapter 18 of St. Luke’s Gospel. Today when we hear of a Pharisee in Scripture we automatically assume that here is the ‘bad guy’, but to the original audiences however the Pharisees were known as those most serious about their faith. Tax collectors worked with the Roman occupiers and made their living by collecting more tax than the Romans had imposed. Imagine the characters changed to a religious and a drug dealer praying and Our Lord having praise for the drug dealer. That’s the kind of impact the story had.
Immediately following this parable we have the story of Jesus blessing the little children and saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” I think this reflects back upon the parable. The Tax Collector stands before God without pretense. Simply acknowledging his sin and begging for mercy. He is completely dependent upon God and he knows it. He is a little one reaching for the Father. The Pharisee on the other hand is haughty and too full of his own knowledge and self worth. In other words a prototypical teenager.
May the Lord help us to be as little children. That we continue to be sure in our dependence upon Him and remembering that however much we know and do it pales compared to what we should have done and what God does know.