“So this Rabbi and a tax collector walk into a temple…”

Yes, this has all the makings of a great joke, but it’s actually Luke 18:10. Eastern Orthodox Churches recall the story of the Pharisee and the Publican today, the fourth Sunday before Easter. A different section of the New Testament is read each weekend during Lent.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The first parable of the Triodion (literally, ‘three odes’) stresses humility before oneself and before God…

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men—thieves, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all that I possess.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Father George Morelli compares Lent to “a boot camp refresher course that we take each year so Christ’s teachings can be better lived in us…”

Next weekend churches focus upon the Return of the Prodigal Son and the Commemoration of the Dead.

The following weekend: the Last Judgment and the Expulsion of Adam and Eve.

Luke 18 is also the chapter where Jesus is asked:

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

from Priscilla

(World’s Largest Needle in Milan, Italy)

Well, we’ve got the needle. All we need is a man rich enough to clone a foot-tall dwarf camel!

Don’t laugh. You know some billionaire out there is trying right now…

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