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Notes on Trinity 11 – Luke 18:9-14

by pastorjuhl ~ July 28th, 2008

Holy Scripture

Thus says the LORD: “When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die.” (Ezekiel 33:13 NKJV)

Pius Parsch, “The Church’s Year of Grace”

Humility is the liturgy’s principal lesson; humility, the signpost infallibly pointing the way to the kingdom of God. “A proud saint is a devil, a humble sinner is a saint.” (Vol. 4, p. 107)

The parable is a resume’ of the whole story of God’s dealing with men, and it also unveils the story of my soul. On the great stage of history it reveals why Gentiles and sinners were called to grace and salvation, while the Jews, self-righteous and proud, fell from divine favor. As generations pass, the parable repeats itself in the life of each individual. To us it should bring home the lesson that the key to any supernatural progress is humility. What is humility but the revelation of God in Jesus Christ? This sublime virtue came to earth in the person of the God-Man; in it everything that is good and great and holy has its origin – all that pertains to the work of redemption. (4:109)

On past Sundays the Church etched life in the kingdom of God in contrast-pictures. A similar contrast occurs today in the true-to-life parable of the humble tax gatherer and the proud Pharisee. But if we look deeper into our hearts, we find enthroned there two principles, a lower one seeking to debase us and a higher one aspiring toward God, a pagan soul and a Christian soul, and each contends for mastery. Life’s task is to triumph more and more over the pagan soul and to aid the Christian soul in realizing full and sole command. (4:111)

…through the whole liturgy runs a double motif, that of exaltation and that of humiliation. Or we may say that it is a single movement – through humiliation to exaltation. (4:114)

Blessed Martin Luther’s Church Postil

…the beginning of goodness or godliness is not in us, but in the Word of God. God must first let His Word sound in our hearts by which we learn to know and to believe in Him, and afterwards do good works. (2:2:339)

Faith alone must make us good and save us. But to know whether faith is right and true, you must show it by your works. (2:2:342)

The publican is on the right road and is twice justified; once through faith before God, and again by his works to me. Here he gives unto God His glory, and by faith repays Him with praise. Also toward me he performs the duty of love, and puts words into my mouth and teaches me how to pray. Now he has paid all his debts toward God and man. So faith ruges him to do; without however requiring anything from God as a reward of faith. (2:2:343)

…if (the Pharisee) had committed the vilest sin and deflowered virgins, it would not have been as bad as when he says, “I thank Thee, God, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulteres, or even as this publican.” (2:2:345)

Blessed Martin Luther’s House Postil

Where humility is lacking, there God’s favor and grace cannot dwell (2:380)

How does it come, then, that to the publican He says, “You are justified”, and to the Pharises, “You are an evil knave”? Because God, the Lord, does not inquire after all manner of virtues, not even the most excellent, if humility is not present. (2:381)

If you truly wish to know an individual, then you must not look at outward pious show, which any scoundrel may simulate, but you must rather assess what is righteous before God. As far as his outward life, the Pharisee is pious; in fact, one would wish the whole world were like him. But such outward piety even a scoundrel can duplicate. Therefore, don’t judge by outward appearances. You will find that hidden under such an apparent holy life is a devil’s haughtiness. (2:388-389)

Dom Prosper Gueranger, “The Liturgical Year”

(Quoting Bede the Venerable) The Pharisee stands for the Jewish people, which prided itself on its merits, which arose from the justifications of the Law. The Publican stands for the Gentile, who, far from God, confesses his sins. Of these one because of pride goes away humbled, the other because of humble repentance merited to draw near to God, exalted. (Volume 11:263)

Humility, which produces within us this salutary fear, is the virtue that makes man know his right place, with regard both to God and to his fellow men. It rests on the deep-rooted conviction, put into our hearts by grace, that God is everything, and that we, by nature, are nothingness, nay, less than nothingness, because we have degraded ourselves by sin. (11:265-266)

The way Satan makes his slaves take is the way he took for himself, from the very beginning; which our Lord thus expresses: “He stood not in the truth.” (John 8:44); “He aimed at being like unto the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). This pride of his succeeded in fixing him, for all eternity, in the hell of absurdity and lie. Therefore, humility is truth; and, as the same Jesus says: “The truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32) by liberating us from the tyranny of the father of lies; and then, having made us free, it makes us holy; it sanctifies us by uniting us to God, Who is living and substantial Truth. (11:267)

Real greatness consists in the Truth, humility alone leads to it. (11:268)

M.F. Toal, “The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers”

Theophylactus: Pride is a contempt of God. For as often as a man ascribes the good he does, not to God, but to himself, what is this but a denial of God?

Greek Writer: The previous parable is the widow and the judge, teaching perseverance in prayer. This parable teaches us how we are to direct our prayers to Him so our giving of ourselves to prayer may not be profitless.

Augustine: Let those take notice who say: God made me a man; I make myself just. O worse and more detestable than the Pharisee, who proudly described himself as just, yet gave thanks to God for this.

Chrysostom: It was not enough for (the Pharisee) to hold all human nature in contempt; he must also attack the Publican. He would have sinned much less had he left the Publican alone. Now in the one sentence he attacks the absent, and wounds the only person present. We do not give thanks by speaking ill of others. When you give thanks to God, let Him alone be your thought. Do not let your mind turn to men; and do not condemn your neighbor.

More to come.

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