A sermon on Proper 25C (Luke 18:9-14)
But wouldn’t that just make us like the Pharisee? Should we thank God we are not like the Pharisee? Pharisees get roughed up in the New Testament, but they loved God and had considerable concern for the practices of their faith. Fasting was a religious practice, as was tithing. And I assure you there’s nothing wrong with prayer or fasting or tithing.
And yet the tax collector simply and honestly begged for God’s mercy and received it. Not because he was deserving. He wasn’t deserving. He received mercy because God is merciful. That’s what God does. That’s who God is. God chooses to set aside sin because God loves us and wants us and knows we are bound to fail.
That mercy may confuse and even offend us - it certainly did offend people in Jesus' day - but it is the Gospel.
He thought he was supposed to be different.
Which showed that he didn’t really know God any better than he knew the tax collector. And why not? Some of us hardly even know ourselves.