Reflection for the 20th Sunday After Pentecost Luke 18: 9-14; October 23, 2022

By: The Rev. Fr. Nixon T. Jose
Parish of the Holy Sepulchre, Paco, Manila

"The preacher is, above all, a person of theology, a person of religion there in the pulpit to show that a sound ethic can only proceed from a sound theology, and that right decisions in the political and social sphere can issue only from right religious and moral principles."

The Most Rev. Donald Coggan

101st Archbishop of Canterbury


  1. The Pharisees were in usual conflict with Jesus. They were legalistic in applying the written and unwritten Laws; while Jesus was always flexible, always explaining and doing what was the greater good for the people. The Pharisees often differed with Jesus in interpreting the Law.

    The Pharisees were known during their time as full of greed and self-indulgence. They were often criticized by Jesus in His teachings. The Gospel was an illustration that they were self-righteous and obsessed by their own virtue. By basing on the Gospel, the Pharisee thought of no one but himself and regarded everyone else a sinner.
  2. The publicans or tax collectors were hated by the Jews because they collaborated with the Roman Empire. As such, they were looked upon as traitors. They were also seen as corrupt in collecting taxes. In spite of this, the publican in the Gospel was presented as a person who humbled himself and acknowledged himself a sinner and begged for mercy from God.

    Both the Pharisee and the publican came into the presence of God in two different ways: the Pharisee exalting himself; the publican sincerely bowing down in humility. The one justified was the one who bowed down asking for mercy.


  1. The Gospel expresses that our justification is dependent on God. That is God"s! Like the example of the Pharisee, it shows that no one can boast that he or she is justified because of the good things that he or she has done. Like the publican, it also shows that God"s mercy is not chained by our past failures and sins. God is free to justify or grant forgiveness to those who will be like the publican who humbled himself in the presence of God and asked for mercy.

    On the other hand, it also shows that no religion, nor church or ecclesial body can claim monopoly of God"s grace and mercy -- by telling others that they are the only ones who will be saved because that is God"s prerogative!
  2. The Gospel expresses an important point in our lives and especially in our prayer -- the value of humility and sincerity. As says the Lord, "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Likewise, this is also a powerful reminder or even a warning to all those who think of themselves as already righteous and have done a lot of good things but denigrate others.
  3. Pray always with all humility and sincerity.
  4. Always pray and work for the greatest good of all for that is pleasing in the sight of God.

    "Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to Him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever." (Eph 3: 20-21) Amen.



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