It is interesting what comes our of the reading when I draw it.. I thought this picture was going to be very elaborate with lots of background but when it came down to it, it was all about the two men and light.. The first man was busy shining his own light. In the reading the parable was told because Jesus had a couple of people who were very pleased with their own moral standing and looked down at common people.. The pharisee was very proud that he paid his 10% and fasted twice a week.. Realistically I’m thinking it is not really that impressive, he was required by law to pay his 10% and I fast twice a week when I am so busy at work and I forget to eat lunch!
The assumption of the other is that they intentionally have set out to do the wrong thing.. Robbers, crooks, adulterers and “that” tax collector. I assume the Pharisee had enough money that he could fast twice a week as a choice.. I wonder if this also meant he could take as many wives as he wanted.. Now maybe I am making some assumptions about him, but he was obviously making assumptions about the others.It was easier to blame the tax collector for being dodgy rather than being angry at the system that left the tax collector in a difficult predicament and made the people feel like they are taking advantage of them..people needed to make a living somehow what happens to those who don’t have the family support, or where left as orphans, how do they make a living?
As human beings I think we often make assumptions about the other.. The stranger we do not know or understand.. sometimes our culture actually encourages us to be afraid of someone or something so we won’t look at the bigger picture and see the broader injustice , or see things from a new perspective and realise the other is actually just like us. Instead it encourages us to sit back and pat ourselves on the back about how good we are. But if we were put in their situation would we really do anything any different?
The tax collector was struggling with who he was and what was going on in his life and he was truthful and honest in his conversation with God. He was realistic to know he wasn’t perfect and it gave him room to learn and grow.. At the front of his picture we see a shadow which is often what we see when we see the stranger but the light source that casts that shadow is God.