Tag Archives: tax collector

Salvation Comes To Our House

If you follow Pope Francis– and many people are following him these days–you notice that since the pope has moved downstairs to the guest house in the Vatican he’s making the daily Eucharist there one of his most important sources for learning and teaching God’s word. Some of his best insights are found in his daily homilies at morning Mass.

These are not elaborate sermons but simple remarks that usually come as he reflects on the scripture readings or the feast that’s being celebrated. He’s reflecting on the “daily bread” God gives him, and all of us.

This morning we read the story of Zacchaeus, the tax-collector in Jericho, whom Jesus calls to salvation as he makes his way to Jerusalem. How many times we’ve heard his story from Luke’s gospel, yet I noticed today something I didn’t see before: Jesus doesn’t call Zacchaeus to follow him, as he told another tax-collector, Matthew.

Jesus doesn’t tell Zacchaeus to give up his job and go somewhere else. No, salvation comes to his house, Jesus says. As far as we know, when Jesus left, the chief tax-collector stayed in Jericho, doing what he was doing, probably still wealthy, but now a changed man.

Does salvation come to us too like that? Does it come to our house, where we live and for what we do? Does it make us see things differently? Does it help us do things more justly and lovingly? Does it enable us to be the presence of Jesus where we are?

The Tax-Collector’s Prayer

In Luke’s gospel Jesus often sides with those who are so let down by life that they hardly dream of anything better– tax collectors, widows, sinners like the prodigal son. He was criticized frequently by others for associating with people like that, so he must have done it often enough.
The tax collector in the parable we read today, who’s praying in the back of the temple, is an example. Luke recalls earlier in his gospel that Jesus sat down at table with Matthew and some of his tax collector friends in Capernaum. Was he telling their story in this parable?
Staying at a distance, eyes down, the tax collector says only a few words:“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
The Pharisee’s prayer is so different, so full of himself; he seems to ask only for applause and approval. The tax collector asks only for mercy.
His prayer is heard so shouldn’t we make it our own? Tax-collectors,  widows and sinners stand closest to where all humanity stands. We all need God’s mercy. We come to God empty-handed.
“O God come to my assistance. O Lord make haste to help me.”

“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Praying Like The Tax Collector

Lk 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable

to those who were convinced of their own righteousness

and despised everyone else.

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;

one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,

‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity

greedy, dishonest, adulterous  or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week,

and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance

and would not even raise his eyes to heaven

but beat his breast and prayed,

‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;

for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,

and the one who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Saturday, 3rd week of lent

In Luke’s gospel Jesus often takes the side of tax collectors, widows, and sinners like the prodigal son who are so beaten down by their own situation that they can hardly dream of anything better. He is criticized frequently for associating with people like that, so he must have done it often enough.

In the parable, the tax collector who goes into the temple area to pray is one of them. Early in his gospel, Luke recalls that Jesus sat down at table with a number of tax collectors who were Matthew’s friends. Is he typical of them?

Staying at a distance, eyes down, the tax collector only utters a couple of words:

“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

The Pharisee’s prayer is so different, so full of himself; he seems to ask for applause. The tax collector asks only for mercy.

His prayer was heard, Jesus says, so should we not make it our own? Tax-collectors,  widows and sinners are heard because their situation is closest to where all humanity stands. God hears their prayers and calls them into his Kingdom. We all stand in need of God’s mercy.

“O God come to my assistance. O Lord make haste to help me.”