This parable of Jesus, mentioned only in the Gospel of Luke, Luke 18:9-14, contrasts a self-righteous Pharisee and a humble Tax Collector, or Publican, who pray at the temple.
According to the New Testament Pharisees often strictly adhered to Jewish Law; publicans were despised Jews who collaborated with the Roman Empire and best known for collecting taxes. The parable does not condemn the publican's occupation but praises his humility.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee begins the three-week pre-Lenten season as an example of expected humility.
"And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Luke 18:9-14