Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Tenth Sunday after Pentecost—29 July A.D. 2018
Ave Maria!



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[English Text]
[Latin Text]

Pharisee and Publican


“I tell you that this man went back to his home justified,
rather than the [first]”

    Today’s Gospel warrants some discussion to be fully understood. 

X    The “Publicans” were tax collectors—hated and feared in many societies, (the I.R.S. of their time!) but often working for the Roman invaders of Israel—doubly despised!

X    The “Pharisees” were among the most respected citizens of Israel—the descendants of the Machabees, who fought valiantly to expel foreign invaders and to uphold the Law of Moses.  Yet, the Pharisees were known for their outward observance of the Law, wanting to be seen and praised by others for their observance.[2]

    We must recognize that the things our Pharisee said he did are all praiseworthy:  “I am not … an extortioner, unjust, an adulterer….I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.[3]  No doubt, the Publican could also have identified good thing that he had done.  The point that our Lord makes is that while the Pharisee may do good things, those good things don’t make him better than anyone else.  He had no right to compare himself with “that publican over there.”  He seemed to be so proud of himself that he was declaring that God was the lucky one to have him for a follower!

    If the two men were in the Temple to pray for forgiveness of their sins—which is what “justification” implies—it was pointless to boast of one’s own goodness while asking forgiveness.  Certainly, before God no man is truly just.  What God is looking for from men and women is compunction—“a feeling of uneasiness or anxiety of the conscience caused by regret for doing wrong or causing pain; contrition; remorse.”[4]  Instead, the Pharisee exhibited a self-centered pride, denying that any of the goodness in him came from God.

    The Publican, on the other hand, understood his relationship with God.  He knew that all of his good qualities had their origin in God, and with all of his God‑given goodness taken away, he was nothing more than a sinner—he could not ask God to acknowledge his goodness, so he was content to ask God to “be merciful to me, the sinner.”

    After faith, hope, and charity, humility is quite likely the most important Christian virtue.  Humility keeps us from making rash judgments about other people (like “that publican over there”).  Humility insures that we won’t violate the rights of others out of self‑importance—it will keep us from dangerous thoughts like “I have a greater right to that man’s house or car…or to his wife or even to his life”!

    But, understand, that true humility is not a denial of our self-worth.  The person who repeatedly and regularly claims to be worthless is actually boasting!  And he is denying God’s benevolence.  We are all different, but God made us with our unique talents and abilities—some can play the violin, some can do mathematics, some can draw and paint, some can build buildings in wood and in stone, some can repair engines, some can cook and sew, and so on and so forth.  The truly humble one will honestly recognize God’s power working in himself, will make the effort to develop his God-given talents, and will be willing to exchange them with the people around him.  It takes an honest man to me an humble man.

    But, again, before God we bring nothing of our own to Him.  We can never go to Him singing our own praises and telling Him how lucky He is to have such a wonderful follower.  Rather, we must be like the Publican who acknowledged that he had no goodness of his own to offer God:  “O God, be merciful to me, the sinner!

“I tell you that this man went back to his home justified,
rather than the [first]”




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