The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is a parable told by Jesus in the gospel of Luke. In it, a Pharisee, grateful for his own virtue, is judged lower than a tax collector who is ashamed of his own sin. The lesson teaches the value of displaying humility by seeking forgiveness for one's sins over displaying pride at one's own righteousness.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: '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.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
During the first century, Pharisees were men of high standing in the religious community and were well known for their strict adherence to the Law of Moses. On the other hand, publicans were Jews who collaborated with the Roman Empire. Because they were best known for collecting taxes (see tax farming) they are commonly described as tax collectors. In the parable, Jesus presents these two men in the context of the popular stereotype of the time.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee is read as part of the preparatory period leading up to Great Lent. The Parable is a major theme which one finds repeated numerous times throughout the Lenten services. The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee falls on the fifth Sunday before the beginning of Lent (part of the moveable cycle of the Orthodox Christian calendar).
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