Daily Worship

Together, apart

Linda Pollock October 23, 2022 0 0
Image credit: Unsplash
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Luke: 18: 9-14 (NRSVA)

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11 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. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13 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!” 14 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.’

As I read this text, I am conscious that the Pharisee and the Tax Collector stand apart from the community of God in the place where the people gathered to offer corporate worship. One man stands alone because, from my reading of the story, he thinks he is better than others and specifically better than a man widely perceived as a betrayer of Israel. The Pharisee, a man admired by the people for insight and wisdom around faith matters, reveals his ignorance of the Divine as he reveals his contempt for the Tax Collector.

To me, the Pharisee relies upon his own understanding, his title as an elder of Israel, relies upon a religious formula for righteousness as he humiliates the outcast. Whereas the man who collected taxes for the Roman army of occupation, the man who created greater fiscal burdens for his brothers and sisters in Abraham, relied upon God’s mercy and grace.

The Tax Collector appears to remain connected to God — even though he is separated from the worshiping community — because he ‘gets’ that God sees us at our worst and our best, and in prayer, the starting place is honesty, which invariably leads us to humility before God.




Holy God, I bow before you this new day and surrender myself to You, Your mercy, Your grace, Your love, confident that you welcome me, affirm me, call and equip me daily to serve You in the Name of Christ Jesus. Amen.