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Dear friends,   1. Mind the gap!
All religions with dressing up and elaborate liturgies run the risk of being the target of today's parable. The gap between how I appear and what I actually do is always there — an inevitable part of the human condition. Accordingly, it is vital not to leave the parable in the past with "the other" safely targeted.  The words of Hosea come to mind: 

Spare me the din of your chanting, let me hear none of your strumming on lyres, let justice flow like water, and uprightness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:23–24 NJB)

In the real world, there's something of both characters in us all, to be honest.  

Such an approach may help us recognise and avoid any tendency to anti-Semitism in our reading and application of the parable. It was possible to be a perfectly sincere and authentic Pharisee, as we see in the example of St Paul himself.  In the Jewish Annotated New Testament, the following penetrating comment is offered: 

Some readers dismiss the Pharisee as hypocritical, sanctimonious, and legalistic, and in turn identify with the tax collector, the repentant, humble, and justified sinner. ... However, once readers choose to identify with the tax collector and reject the Pharisee, the parable traps them: to conclude in effect (following 18.11), “God, I thank you that I am not like this Pharisee …” places readers in the very position they condemn.


2. Sunday 20 October 2019 (29C19) Complete notes (PDF)
Gospel notes only (audio)
Gospel notes only (Portable)

3. Hearers of the Word

Hearers of the Word. Praying & Exploring the Readings for Advent & Christmas: Year A.   The period covered runs from the first Sunday of Advent (01.12.2019) until the Sunday after the Baptism (19.01.2020), including full commentaries on all four sets of readings for Christmas Day. 

The book is available from Messenger Publications by clicking on the link above. It is also available from Book Depository and from

Wishing you every blessing for the week ahead,   

World Meeting of Families




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