The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

phariseetaxDate: October 23, 2016Liturgical Day: The Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 25C) Sermon Title: "Righteousness and Humility"

Summary: Jesus' Parable offers two models of faithfulness: that of righteousness (the Pharisee), and that of humility (the Tax Collector). While righteousness is important, and we seek to nurture it through means like our Five Habits of Discipleship, it can lead us to "trust in ourselves and regard others with contempt." (In fact, in this election season, how many of us have trusted that our own presidential preference is the best, and thought about those who disagree with us with contempt?) Humility can become idolatrous in itself (Who among us is the most humble?). But humility can also open us up to the realization that we need mercy, and the possibility of experiencing God's grace. The Tax Collector is a model of this. He reminds us that we can't become right with God on our own. This is a gift that only God can give. One that we receive when we approach God with humility, and ask for the forgiveness and new life that can be ours in Christ.

This Sunday's sermon ended with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther: “It is faith — without good works and prior to good works — that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone.”

Some discussion Questions:

  1. How has my faith led me to experience God’s mercy?
  2.  How has the gift of mercy shaped my faith? My life?
  3.  Thankful to God, to whom might I be merciful?

Download Sermon: 2016-10-23-sermon