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The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

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Lesson Overview

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In this week鈥檚 Gospel passage, Jesus tells a parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector who come to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee prays in order to boast of his own holiness while the tax collector humbly begs for God鈥檚 mercy. In this lesson, students will reflect upon sacred art to help them better understand the parable and reflect upon their own disposition of prayer.

Lesson Materials


A. Have your students read the Gospel passage for the week and complete the focus and reflection questions.

B. Review and discuss the answers when they have completed the focus questions.

C. In groups of three or four, have your students reflect on the painting The Pharisee and the Publican by James Tissot using the given reflection questions.

D. When complete, call on groups to share and discuss their answers.

Answer Key

Focus Questions

  1. To those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
  2. A Pharisee and a tax collector. They went to the Temple area to pray.
  3. He thanked God that he was not like the rest of humanity 鈥 greedy, dishonest, adulterous 鈥 or like the tax collector with him. He also boasted of his own religious acts, such as fasting and tithing.
  4. He stood at a distance and would not look to Heaven. He prayed for God鈥檚 mercy because he was a sinner.聽
  5. The tax collector, because he humbled himself.

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