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14 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading:  Luke 18.9-14

What a show off! Standing there sounding off about his own virtues, this Pharisee is not an attractive character. You sometimes meet people who like to parade their achievements, and who think that all this is going to win them credit in heaven. I wonder though, does this Pharisee genuinely think as highly of himself as this – or is he just as unsure of his standing before God as anyone else – and he is just trying to convince himself otherwise and certainly make the tax collector feel rotten and inferior?

Sometimes we have no idea of our own frailty, of the flaws in our character which, we have, just like everyone else. This parable of Jesus says to us – get real! Be honest with yourself and with God!

The tax collector, unlike the Pharisee, is all too aware of his sins. He comes to worship with ‘a broken and contrite heart’ (Psalm 51.17). He cries out to God, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ He is the one who goes home justified before God.

Experiencing the love of God opens our eyes to our own sins and to our need for grace and forgiveness. Jesus taught his disciples that the Holy Spirit would expose the guilt of the world (John 16.8). As we become more aware that God loves us, and that Jesus died for us, the Holy Spirit touches our conscience, so we can see how far we fall short. But we need not fear - ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4.18).

It is never the wrong time to say sorry. It is never too late to repent of our sins. God is our loving Father, ready to welcome us home, through the gift of his Son, who died for our sins, and rose for our justification: ‘For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

As the song says; ‘O happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!’ Hallelujah!

Today’s Gospel Reading:  Luke 18.9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’