Today's Gospel in Art - The Pharisee and The Tax Collector


Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector,  by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld © Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld © Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud

Gospel of 21st March 2020 - Luke 18:9-14

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: 'Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, "I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get." The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.'

Reflection on the Biblical Engraving

This engraving is taken from 'Die Bibel in Bildern [Picture Bible] von Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld', published in Leipzig in 30 parts between 1852-60. Schnorr was Lutheran. When his illustrated Bible was published, he was criticised for moving too far away from the simplicity and severity of typical biblical illustrations. As we can see in our engraving, there is almost a dose of humour present, and a pleasing aesthetic and floridity. We can clearly see the Pharisee standing there by himself and feeling very self-righteous, praying along teh lines of 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector'. He is negligently throwing a coin in the collection tazza. The humble tax collector has taken off his hat, displaying humility and remorse.

The parable in today's Gospel reading very clearly tells us how easy it is to get caught up in our own little world, content with our own progress in holiness, and look down upon the people around us. Just like them though, we are not perfect, and therefore we are called to humility in this parable. Humility does not mean that we demean ourselves or pretend to be less than we are. That would be wrong. True humility means that we know our own limitations as well as our talents. We should offer those talents at the service of others; and with our limitations, we should freely ask for advice or wisdom from people who know better… Jesus does not want us to demean ourselves, nor does he want us to exalt ourselves…

Today's story - https://christianart.today/reading.php?id=365

Christian Art Today - https://christianart.today/


Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

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