One day, our Lord Jesus Christ told this parable. (A parable is a story with a special meaning.) He wanted people to learn something from His story.
He told about two men who went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. In those days, Pharisees were people who tried very hard to follow God’s laws, but often did it just to show off or brag. And in those days, people did not like tax collectors because they often cheated people out of their money.
The Pharisee stood up and prayed proudly, “Thank you, God, that I’m not like other men who disobey You and hurt others. Thank you that I’m not like this tax collector. I fast like I am supposed to, and I give money to the temple like I should.”
Meanwhile the tax collector was so sad that he could not even look up towards Heaven. He showed how sorry he was as he sadly prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Our Lord Jesus said that the tax collector was forgiven, but the Pharisee was not. He reminded the people of the lesson in this story: People who are proud and brag, God will humble. But people who are humble, God will lift up.
Here are some questions about the Gospel reading:
1. Who went to the temple to pray?
2. Was the Pharisee proud or humble? How does his prayer tell you that?
3. What about the tax collector? Was he proud or humble? How do you know?
4. Who was forgiven—the Pharisee or the tax collector?
5. Our Lord Jesus wants us to learn the lesson in this story, too. We should not think we are better than anyone else. Like the tax collector, we need to be sorry for our sins and ask God for mercy.