Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (18: 9-14) where Jesus shares the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Fr Paul says, Luke is the evangelist of prayer, and he frequently hints about it within his Gospels. In this Gospel Jesus is explicitly mentioned as being in prayer more than any other; there’s the Baptism, the Transfiguration, when called upon to teach his disciples the Lord’s Prayer (3.21; 6.12; 11.1).

The Agony in the Garden is shaped to show the need for prayer in time of testing (22.40). In the Infancy Narratives has the characters burst into prayerful praise on every occasion, and from these we derive the three great canticles of the Church, the Magnificat, the Benedictus and the Nunc dimittis. The parables of Jesus in Luke’s gospel, insist on the need for perseverance in prayer, especially the parables of the Friend at Midnight (11.5-8) and the Unjust Judge (18.1-5). The message is to persevere!   Fr Paul says, today, in this parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector, Luke combines the serious with humour in a typically Lukan way. We hear the prayer, the pompous and self-contradictory bragging of innocence by the Pharisee. While the humble self-accusation of the tax-collector is something to which we can all aspire to.

For today’s reflection, Fr Paul invites us to consider this question: ‘Am I humble enough to admit my faults and failings and ask for God’s forgiveness or am I like the Pharisee in the gospel?