Parable of the Pharisee and Publican

[Pharisee and Publican]Characters selected by Christ from the two widely different classes of His time and made the principals of a parable. This similitude is peculiar to Saint Luke’s Gospel (Luke 18:10-14). The theme of the discourse is that of the two men going up to the temple to pray, the one the proud, boasting Pharisee, the other a despised and humble publican. The one thanks God that he is not as the rest of men, and boasts of his tithes and fasts; the other; striking his breast, acknowledges that he is a sinner and begs for mercy. It is the latter who finds favor with God. Christ gives the true commentary on the parable in the words “Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” This parable was probably spoken during the closing days of Our Lord’s mortal life, possibly in Perea. The precise time and place are not determined by the Gospel history. Some commentators link this parable with the preceding one (Luke 1:7-8), claiming the two form one whole on the subject of prayer. Others deny any connection. Saint Luke mentions the immediate audience and the occasion (verse 9), saying it was addressed “to some who trusted in themselves as just and despised others.” It was aimed specifically at the Pharisees and their kind. The meaning of the story is obvious. It most powerfully teaches the necessity of the virtue of humility at all times and its essential place in true prayer. This Gospel is read on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost each year.