When sinners go marching in- Saturday, 3rd Week of Lent – Luke 18:9-14

Artist: David LaChapelle

When sinners go marching in- Saturday, 3rd Week of Lent – Luke 18:9-14

Jesus makes clear who the intended audience is and He categories them into three sections; those who trusted in themselves, those who were righteous and those who regarded others with contempt.  The Biblical passage is strewn with little clues and gems and one has to look for them to see both, the clear meaning that lies in each parable and the little details that help narrate the characters in the parable.

The parable has two characters that enter and exit differently. The Pharisee takes a place in the temple in avoidance of anyone else; he is as we are told “standing by himself”. His very physical posture betrays the “righteous” class he believes himself to fall in and thus holds a belief of superiority. To make matters worse, his prayer is directed to God but in comparison to not an equal but what was considered in those days the worst; the tax collector.

The Pharisees fame to claim is that he is not “like other people” who are thieves, rogues, adulterers or tax collectors. Then he goes on to spell out his case of righteousness which includes his fast twice a week and a tithe of ALL his income.  Interestingly, the Pharisee speaks nothing about keeping the law for nowhere in the law was it required for one to fast twice a week; this was an introduction into Judaism based on human precepts. Interestingly also, while the law called for a tithe ( tenth of one income) it never called for a tithe of ALL of one’s income; for example there was no tithe require on property. It’s interesting to note that the righteous Pharisee had maintained human precepts more than he had kept the commandments of God, an accusation that Jesus makes often in the Gospels.    

The Tax collector on the other hand is not without guilt. Tax collectors were hated because they both connived with the Romans and then over taxed the people using the might of the Roman army as their cover.  The tax collectors words however were few, his actions were louder. He beat his breast as a sign of repentance for he truly desired forgiveness. He was aware of his own failing before God and shame loomed so large that he could not even “look to heaven”.

Here is the essential contrast. The Pharisee makes a claim to righteousness based on his own accomplishments, while the tax collector relies entirely upon the Lord’s benevolence. The analysis of Jesus is what forms the crux of this parable. At various points in the Gospel it is Jesus who asks the audience to give their opinion; not in this case.

The words of Jesus are pointed and clear. He has passed judgment and the tax collector is justified. What happens to the Pharisee then? At the end of this story, the Pharisee will leave the Temple and return to his home righteous. Nothing has changed; he was righteous when he came up and righteous as he goes back down. The tax collector, however, will leave the Temple and go back down to his home justified, which is, accounted righteous by the Holy One of Israel.  

One can only imagine the gasp of horror going up in the crowd on hearing Jesus’ analysis of the situation. The Pharisees and Jews must have been in a state of shock for this teaching had overturned their world view making heaven possible for “rogues, thieves, adulterers and tax collectors.”

Fr WarnerD’Souza

#ShareHisWORD #LeaveYourComments

Spread the love ♥

You might also like

6 thoughts on “When sinners go marching in- Saturday, 3rd Week of Lent – Luke 18:9-14”

  • Beautifully explained….
    Jus simple and clear…

  • Thank you Fr. Warner. I understand that this takes a lot of effort to prepare, but if it is possible, could you please shed light on the first/second readings and Psalm as well? Especially when the connection to the Gospel isn’t apparent?

    • Hi Ashwith,
      Honestly these reflections can take an hour to two to prepare and I also have a parish to minister to alone. Sometime ago I focused entirely on the first readings and covered several books of the Old Testament( you will find them in the archives) I am no scripture scholar and so have to put in a lot of hard work to make sure that what I am writing is both correct and a reflection of my own spiritual journey.
      The reason I began writing was to combat what I have come to call CHEESY REFLECTIONS that take lines of scripture out of context and offer to the reader some ‘reflection’ that one is asked to mull over. I would rather present what the Gospel writer intended for the community of his time and for us today. While I do offer some ‘personal thought’ I try to make sure that it flows from the text into our context.
      Fr W

  • Savio Dominic D'souza · Edit

    I have never encountered such enlighten, simplified, clear, knowledgeable and strengthening explanation of the Holy Gospel. This is indeed quite a hard work. God bless you in abundance now and forever.

    • Fr, today’s Gospel is so much about HUMILITY and its power to transform any truly repentant human being.

      I do feel, the domain of humility is so truly vast that if ever one thinks of misventuring into it – it is unlikely he/she will return unscathed .. UNEXALTED, and thus the TRUTH that the humble will be exalted..and the transformed sinners WILL GO M A R C H I N G IN.

      Thankyou Fr. Warner for the valuable insights. Pl do pray for us as we too pray for you, that we all may also go marching in..🙏


Leave a Reply

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