To Obey like the Pharisee, to Repent like the Publican

Source: St. Elizabeth Convent

February 8, 2017


We have already begun our preparation for Great Lent. We are on the verge of the period of our life when we should follow Christ, step by step, on His way to Golgotha, to become witnesses of victory over death. These weeks should form a special attitude towards the spiritual life inside us. We can say that Great Lent, as well as our life in general, is our preparation for Pascha.

The aim is to defeat our old self, to defeat this world, to defeat sin, which made humanity like the “walking dead”. This is why everything we can hear in church and what we feed on spiritually, is aimed at making us live in an other way – not by the laws of this world, where people disturb one another, abuse, torture and even kill one another. Could such life be created by God? Of course, it could not have been. Because this is madness. This is the beginning of hell, where a person does not see anything except from his own “self”.

What are the criteria, by which we judge even in the Church? If a person dressed in rich clothes and comes in, I will think: “Well, this man could donate something to the church”. I will smile to him and make nice with him. But if a dirty homeless man comes, who smells bad, I will say: “I cannot get anything from him. He came to beg for money. They all are just beggars!” This is what Pharisaism is, this is what untruth is! This is a very false note that we get used to so easily.

We have to struggle with ourselves, with our “old self”, with our mercenariness, and with our primitive and limited views on what is happening to us and around us. And the holy Church teaches us how we should live. The Gospel tells about the two people who entered the temple. One of them was a zealous adherent of the law, who did everything right. But what did that lead to? To his arrogance and self-admiration: “I am better than this sinner, who came there without no reason. This place is not for him. It is a place for such good, spiritual and respectable people like me”. At the same time, the publican felt his guilt over God and pronounced the words, which humanity has been repeating for thousands of years: God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:13). Of course, he left the temple justified by God, because those words embodied his whole life.

A person, who came from the secular world, can see his own sins. In our rehabilitation center there are people who have spent decades in prison. Their life was abnormal. How could we all begin to live so that we obey the law like the Pharisee and repent like the publican? This would be so beautiful…


Read the rest at St. Elizabeth Convent...

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