This is really two homilies. The first is about the simple meaning of the parable of the Publican and Pharisee. It is that we will not be saved if we are proud and judge others. We discuss some of its nuances. We also discuss the prayer of the publican “God be mercy to be a sinner”, and the Jesus prayer. There is a lot of practical detail. This is really important stuff.
The first 3 hymns of Vespers from the Triodion teach us the meaning of the Publican & Pharisee parable. We also examine the epistle for this day, and tremble regarding our example to others. We look at the expectation of persecution that a Christian must have and example from the current news of how “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” is being fulfilled in our day. Also the power of scripture and the necessity of reading it.
Imagine now that we are patients in this hospital of the world. The sickness that every one of us is suffering from has the same name – unrighteousness. The word includes all the passions, all lust, all sins – all the weakness and enervation of our souls, our heats and our minds.
The sick are one thing at the beginning of their illness, another at its peak and yet another in its healing. […]
Synopsis: The major thrust of Great Lent is given many times in the services for the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, such as “Vainglory brings to nothing the riches of righteousness, but humility scatters a multitude of passions. Grant then that we may seek humilty, O Savior, and do Thou bestow upon us the portion of the publican; (Matins canon, Ode 3). This time is for the pursuit of humility, because without humilty we will not be saved. What can we glean from the publican and pharisee? The worst sin of the pharisee was his judgment of the publican. Above all things, we must not judge others. Since this sin is so pervasive, how can we learn to not judge others? END:SUB:Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee
Two themes of Great Lent: We must become humble to be saved, and Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Today, brothers and sisters, in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, we have witnessed the one of the themes of Great Lent being proclaimed. We must become humble if we are to become justified. This is the whole reason why we go through all of our exercises, the fasting, increased prayer, increased almsgiving, more introspection, increased prayer at home and in the church. The reason for it is not so that we can feel good about ourselves. Christianity is not about feeling good about yourself; Christianity is about becoming good. The only way to become good is to become humble. If we are humble, we see the truth; we see ourselves; we see God; we see what we need and what God can give. […]
The Lord did not say, “Two men went to the temple”, but “went up” into the temple.
Even now there are some who come to the holy church without going up. […]
Why does humility lead up to the heights of righteousness, whereas self-conceit leads down to the depths of sin? Because anybody who thinks he is something great, even before God, is rightly abandoned by God, as one who thinks that he does not need His help. …
The unseen patron of evil is full of evil ingenuity. Right at the beginning he can drag away, by means of hopelessness and lack of faith, the foundations of virtue already laid in the soul. Again, by means of indifference and laziness, he can make an attempt on the walls of virtue’s house just when they are being built up. Or he can bring down the roof of good works after its construction, by means of pride and madness. …
Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee
The rest of the story, How was the publican justified?
Today is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. It is a formal beginning to our preparation for the Holy Fast, and is the first day we read anything from the Triodion this year. We are now in a period of time to prepare ourselves – 4 more weeks. … There is not much more time, and this time is given for us to reflect upon what it is that we need to do to improve ourselves.
The church gives us some help here. The Sunday before this day is always the Sunday of Zacchaeus, who was a publican. Today, we read about another publican, just a nameless person in a parable. This event never actually occurred; it is a parable our Lord used to teach us. However, it has extra meaning when we think of it in light of the story of Zacchaeus, and in our mind’s eye, equate the publican in this parable with Zacchaeus.
In this parable we see two kinds of humility – or rather, humility and its evil opposite, pride – and two kinds of knowledge. We see the pride of the Pharisee, and the church in its hymnology points out the differences between his pride and the humility of the publican. In order to fully understand the lesson we must see that the Pharisee was not completely wrong and the publican was not completely virtuous, and yet, one of them was justified and the other was not. …
This is a long quotation, but very profitable to read. It explains the purpose of fasting, the proper attitude towards it, its effects on our spiritual state, and how fasting not done in the right spirit is actually injurious to Read More …