Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

It is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. Time to look at Pride and humility. Time to get ready for that time that we spend getting ready.

So, . . a tax collector and a Pharisee walk into a temple. . .

The phrase that leaps out to me this year is a warning in the words of the Pharisee.

“O Lord, I thank Thee…” and words of madness, as we will hear St. Andrew declare to us in just a few weeks.

Who are those people for us? For the Pharisee it was the Publican

O Lord I thank Thee that I am not like that Publican.

Who do we hold as people we might thank God we are not like?

We could reverse it: “O Lord, I thank Thee that I am not like that Pharisee.”

We could find some person to look down on: “O Lord, I thank Thee that I am not like that homeless man.”

We could ascribe it to our enemies: “O Lord, I thank Thee that I am not like that bad person.”

We could choose a supervisor, a fellow-worker, a politician,

We can even choose a member of the clergy: “O Lord, I thank Thee that I am not like that priest/bishop/preacher/deacon.”

Whoever we pick, it is pride, deadly pride.

For whatever person we might choose, we have to own that the very things that annoy us to no end are in someway within us, and we are just as capable of doing and being that person we may thank God we are not.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

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Do you want to be healed?

 

Jesus asks me a bizarre question: Do I want to be healed?

 

Do I want to be healed?

A very good question Jesus asks the Paralytic at the pool, “Do you want to be healed?”

I must admit that while most of me wants to be healed, there are parts of me that do not. Repentance is an on-going lifestyle. Great Lent is upon us. Perhaps with God’s grace those parts of me that do not want to be healed will become less.

Healing is what the Church is to be about. We are all in need of healing. We are all broken. Part of our problem is  that we try so hard to keep up an appearance that we are “OK”. We are not OK. We are all suffering from insanity to one degree or another. God restores our mind to sanity. We have to let Him, and cooperate with Him.

This healing does not happen in isolation; it happens in COMMUNION with others, in COMMUNION with Christ (Communion – Koinonia has been translated by some as “fellowship”) and His Church. It requires humility, rigorous honesty. The Orthodox Church presents us with several icons of humility in preparation for Great Lent: Zacchaeus, the Publican, the Prodigal Son. While we assume that we are not in need of healing, God will not heal us. When we humble ourselves and own our brokenness, then God will work with us to transform our darkened NOUS (mind) into the mind of His anointed.

O Word, supreme in love, Who with the Father and the Spirit hast created all things visible and invisible in Thy wisdom past speech, grant in Thy compassion that we may spend the season of the joyful Fast in profound peace. Destroy the beguilement of bitter sin, granting us contrition, tears of healing and forgiveness of our trespasses, that fasting with a fervent spirit and undoubting soul, we may join the angels to sing the praises of Thy power.