The image accompanying the scripture posts this week is a 1661 painting by the Dutch artist Barent Fabritius. It used a didactic layout as a means of story telling and teaching. The center of the frame shows the Pharisee (on the left) and the Tax Collector (on the right). They are in the Temple in prayer. There is much to be discerned in their attire, posture, and demeanor. But the artist is clear about the end result. The one who prays with a haughty attitude exists to the left accompanied by a demon. The one who prays humbly exist with the angels attending.
Image credit: De Farizeeër en de tollenaar (The Pharisee and Publican), Barent Fabritius, 1661, Public Domain
This coming Sunday is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C. This gospel of the Pharisee and tax collector in prayer follows the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (18:1-8). “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. (Luke 18:10) While the common thread is certainly prayer, there are other aspects which bind together these two narratives. One of Luke’s ongoing themes is the inclusivity of the Gospel. In these two parables, God who hears all prayers is addressed by a (saintly and probably poor) widow and the sinful (and probably rich) male tax collector. Luke continues to demonstrate that the Reign of God is open to all – a message of keen importance to his Gentile audience. Continue reading