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. …
Jesus will show Himself to every man, without exception. Why is it that some, such as Zacchaeus see Him as He really is, and others such as the crowd who judged Zacchaeus, do not see Him even though He is in their midst? The whole point to life is to "see Jesus", that is, to know Him. Zacchaeus gives us import instructions as to how to accomplish this. Every day, we must be like Zacchaeus, recognizing who we are, and how little we are and how much our sins present an obstacle to knowing God, and run ahead of them to await the Lord coming to us. HE will always come – are we always in the proper state of mind to receive Him?
Today, brothers and sisters, we have a “before” story and a “beginning” story. It is appropriate on this Sunday – only four Sundays remain now after this Sunday before Great Lent. On this day we talk about Zacchaeus, how he was before, at the beginning of the salvation. And it is appropriate because during Great Lent should be, for all of us, a struggle to become more spiritual, to know more about ourselves and about God, to do good works, to pray, to fast.
It’s a struggle that is difficult. We will see next Sunday the prayer of the Publican. In our mind’s eye, we think of Zacchaeus when we think of the Publican and the Pharisee, when he was crying: “Oh, God, be merciful to me a sinner”, because he felt the weight of his sins. This is after Zacchaeus had been received by Christ, and he had entered into the struggle against his passions.
In the Christian life salvation comes to us by degrees, because salvation is us being changed. We change by degrees. Nobody changes all at once. You might make a decision at a critical moment in your life as Zacchaeus did, but you don’t change all at once. You change with struggle.
Now, what happened to Zacchaeus …
This Sunday is already the Sunday of Zacchaeus. 1st Sunday before Great Lent (Word DOC format) Sunday Of Zacchaeus 1 Tim:4-9-15, Luke 19:1-10 1999 1st Sunday before Great Lent (HTML format) Sunday Of Zacchaeus 2001 1st Sunday before Great Lent (Word DOC format) Zacchaeus Sunday 2002 1st Sunday before Great Lent (mp3 format) Sunday… Continue reading Sunday of Zacchaeus Homilies
Why is this scripture read today, two Sundays before Great Lent begins? What is its meaning? What are the two critical characteristics of those who will be saved? How are we to understand the things the righteous did and the unrighteous did not do, and their identical answers to the Lord? What must we do?
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. …
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.  Brothers and sisters, today is Zacchaeus Sunday; it one of the five Sundays that precedes Great Lent and helps us prepare for the Great Fast. Zacchaeus was a publican and very rich. This meant that he was… Continue reading Homily:Sunday of Zacchaeus. Push past the press!