Congratulations! Andrew Schensted Ordination at Kinsmen!
Dear Gulf Coast Leaders,
For the Craig Saterlee event, below, please register now.
Next week: October 24 – Global Mission Festival. Living Word, Katy.
October 28-November 2 – Proclaiming the Christmas Cycle with Dr. Craig Satterlee, LSTC Homiletics Prof will present a method for preaching, using the Advent/Christmas A cycle. 9:30-3:30. $30. Order the Proclamation Series A.. Thursday, October 28 at Salem, Houston, October 29 in Columbus, Texas and Tuesday, 11/2 at Peace, Slidell, LA
October 30 – Reformation and… All That Jazz, 7-10 p.m. at Faith, Bellaire. A night of faith & great music!. Register now!
January 24-26 – 2011 Tri-Synodical Theological Conference, at Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention Center in Galveston, TX. Marcus Borg, presenter:Then and Now: What the First Century Can Teach the 21st Century Church. REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN:http://www.gulfcoastsynod.org/Theologicalconference2011.htmlTwo books to read in preparation:
- The Heart of Christianity – Rediscovering a Life of Faith
- Toward A Hopeful Future – Why the Emergent Church Is Good News for Mainline Congregations
X 9/12 Luke 15:1-10 Lost coin/sheep (heaven rejoices more over 1 lost than 99 found)
X 9/19 Luke 16:1-13 Shrewd Manager (make friends by means of unrighteous mammon)
X 9/26 Luke 16:19-31 Rich Man and Lazarus (flip flop of rich and poor in the next life)
X 10/3 Luke 17:5-10 Mustard Seed?undeserving Slaves
X 10/10 Luke 17:11-19 10 Lepers
X 10/17 Luke 18:1-8 Judge and Widow (pray/don’t lose heart)
10/24 Luke 18:9-14 Publican and Pharisee (humility/warning against hypocrisy)
9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10″Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt…
As is often the case with Luke, we get the point of the story from the outset. Recall that in Luke 15:1-3 we’re told that Jesus is in hot water with the religious leaders for eating with sinners. “Therefore he told them this parable…” and we get the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In last week’s gospel before the story of the widow knocking at the unjust judge’s door, we’re told, “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” Unlike Mark, with his secrecy motif, Luke, an evangelist of rhetoric, likes to make the point at the outset.
So, “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous [dikaios] and regarded others with contempt.” The reader is told that this is a critique on the self-righteous, who trust high horse and treat others with contempt. The enemies are trusting ones own (self) righteousness and treating others with contempt.
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The hearer is supposed to instantly recognize who is wearing the white hat, and who is wearing the black hat. This is similar to the way Luke sets up the hearers in the story of the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan. Everyone knows who should respond with compassion. And everyone knows what’s probably going to happen.
The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’
“Standing by himself,” seems like a metaphor (σταθεὶς πρὸς ἑαυτὸν). He is standing solely on his own works. Furthermore, he rejoices that he has risen above others: thieves, rogues (ἄδικοι), adulterers and tax collectors. I can’t for the life of me figure out why the NRSV translated ἄδικοι as “rogues.” Someone should do a word study and see if they do this every time ἄδικοι is used.
The Pharisee takes comfort that he is not as bad as others. Hopefully God grades on a curve. Fasting and tithing are really, really good things. But they cannot form the basis of our justification.
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
Luke’s Jesus is teaching us something. He sneaks another lesson on how to pray into the narrative. Don’t worry about the splinter in your neighbor’s eye says Matthew’s Jesus. Focus on the log in yours. It’s so much more gratifying to point out others’ sins than to dwell on my own.
The proper posture when entering into God’s presence is humility. St. Augustine writes:
What three things are most important in the spiritual life? …
Humility, humility and then humility… We were saved by humility – the humility of God.
The life of Christ is a life of humiliation.
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility according to St. Bernard. Humility continues as a virtue even into Kant, who defined it as one having a proper perspective of oneself, as human/imperfect, but capable
God opposes the proud, but exalts the humble, or so say Peter (1 Peter 5:5) and James (4:6), both presumably quoting Proverbs 3:34.
In the Magnificat, God exalts those of low degree, and brings down the mighty, scattering those who are proud in the imagination of their hearts (their self-opinion?). Pride goeth before the fall: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). Luke is not going out on a limb here. He’s in good company.
I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Luke makes it clear that the tax collector went home justified (dikaioo) and the Pharisee did not. The tax collector is made right with God by his faith in God’s mercy, not his trust in his own goodness. The Pharisee is disqualified because he doesn’t trust in God. He’s too full of himself.
Of course, this story would not have sat well with the Pharisees, who agreed collectively that tax collectors were persona non grata, unclean colloaborators with the heathen Roman occupiers. Like so many of Luke’s stories, the self-proclaimed righteous ones are brought down, and the unclean, unrighteous are shown to have great faith. Let those with ears hear…
I’m struck by how “righteousness” and “justice” and “justification,” all blend together in Luke. They’re all the same root word. This cannot be an accident in Luke’s Greek, which is the most sophisticated grammar and vocabulary in the New Testament. He’s messing with us.
The theme from the last parable (unjust judge and persistent widow) set out at the beginning of chapter 18 should not be scuttled. Whoever you are, keep praying. Don’t lose heart. God answers prayers for schmucks, widows, tax collectors and everyone else, as much as those who think they are “in.”
Just be sure to approach God with a little humility.
שלומ سلام Peace,
Michael RinehartMichael Rinehart, bishop
TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
12941 1-45 North Freeway, Suite #210
Houston, TX 77060-1243
bishop by bishop.
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- Lectionary A