St Cuthbert's Church

Pastoral Letters

A Pastoral Letter - 27 Oct. 2019
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

by Revd. Ivan Edelson

(Luke 18 : 9 - 14)
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A fellow, full of his own importance was standing in the queue at the airport waiting impatiently to board the aircraft.  After a short while he went up to the boarding gate and in a demanding manner asked the attendant if she knew who he was.  The attendant responded in a cool and calm manner saying, “Sorry sir, but if you will wait, I will see if can find someone to tell you who you are!”

Our Gospel reading from Luke reminded me of this story.  On the one hand, there is the Pharisee, full of his own self-centred importance and on the other is the tax collector who did not even approach the Holy of Holies, recognising his brokenness.

The attitude of the tax collector is one of humility, acknowledging that he has no claim on God’s mercy, but nevertheless begs God to have mercy on him, a sinner!

The Pharisee on the other hand exhibits an attitude of prideful arrogance, claiming his lack of sin and extolling his virtues.  He even says that he fasts twice a week instead of the once a week that is expected and he gives 10% of everything that he gets.

Where do I find myself in this scenario?  Have I become too arrogant and expectant of God to just shower me with His Grace or am I like the tax collector, aware of my sinful nature and humbly praying to God to have mercy on me?

David, the psalmist writes in Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me, O God according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions”.  He goes on to say “Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight”

This is the attitude that I should have.  I know that my Heavenly Father has seen my heart and knows that I recognise my sin.  I am aware of His great compassion and mercy, and also of the Grace that is offered through His Son Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

Lord, help us to stay humble, recognising the talents that you have given to each of us, talents that we should use to build Your Kingdom.  Keep us ever mindful of our ego’s that seek to distance us from You.  Inspire us through the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News and to love one another, just as Jesus has and continues to love us.
In His loving Grace.

Date Added: 2019-10-24
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