Joshua 19-21; Luke 18

Luke 18:13 “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.’”

In the attitude of the tax collector we see everything we need to know about humility, the foundation of a holy life.  In understanding this story, it is helpful to have some knowledge of 1st century culture in Judea.  A tax collector was the lowest of the low, a Roman collaborator and traitor, and parasite to his own people.  When Jesus told a parable and the listeners heard “tax collector” or “Samaritan” or “prostitute”, they had a bilious reaction.  And then Jesus would turn things upside down by making this wretched person the hero of his parable.  A tax collector humbling himself before God undoubtedly was a striking image in their minds, and then to hear the man went home justified before God – that was a lot to chew on!

Jesus says more than once “When the Son of Man returns, will he find any faith left on the earth?”  I think he could have said the same thing about humility: it is something certainly difficult to discern in our culture and public life.  Likewise it is hard to find mercy.  Public people who fall get savaged in the media.  Lord, show me mercy, and grant me the grace to in turn be merciful!

GOD’S ANSWER: Those who are merciful, and in turn seek it for themselves, shall have mercy.

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