Excerpt From: Ken Gire. “Moments with the Savior.”
“A Pharisee also comes this hour to pray. He comes every day at each of the four appointed hours of prayer. He stops and takes his position somewhere in the center of the courtyard, his usual spot.
As he prays, he looks neither upward in worship nor downward in remorse but sideways in comparison to the others who have gathered there. His eyes skim the scrawl of sins written so legibly across their faces.
He is pleased with the comparison. God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
“Taking inventory, the Pharisee is satisfied with the account of his life. The tax collector, however, is not.”
“God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
He stands in the distance, sobbing. He is painfully aware of the sins levied against him, but he is too ashamed to list them. He knows the greed. He knows the deceit. He knows the ledger of injustices credited to his account.
That’s why his eyes are downcast. That’s why he beats his fists against his chest. And that’s why he stands in a corner of the courtyard; his only companions, the shadows cast by columns of cool and indifferent stone.
But God sees the tax collector slumped in those shadows. His heart overflows with mercy for the man, and his eyes glisten with approval.
In that courtyard at that hour of prayer, both the Pharisee and the tax collector realized where they stood.
Only one of them realized before whom.