Today on the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee the Triodion begins. The Gospel lesson, which narrates the parable of the Publican and Pharisee, comes to us from Luke 18:10-14. Father Gregory shares with us insight, from antiquity, into this well-known parable about two men who approach God in prayer, one a righteous man and the other a sinner. The Pharisee, a model religious figure, was a righteous man who kept the law including the three pillars of our Orthodox faith; prayer, fasting and tithing but he despised all others who were not part of his inner circle. The hearers of this parable would have thought of this Pharisee as one to emulate in their own lives. The publican or tax collector as he prayed could not even lift his eyes to heaven but simply beat his breast and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner”. This tax collector, who is depicted as a repentant sinner, would have not received any sympathy from the hearer in Jesus’ day but he is the one in fact who acts in accordance with God’s will and therefore is justified as he leaves the temple. The Pharisee did beautiful things including; praying, fasting and tithing but his problem was he did them to exalt himself and therefore missed out on receiving God’s Grace. Orthodox Christians should continue to pray, fast and tithe with humility and in accordance with God’s will. We must emulate the repentance of the tax collector remembering that Christianity is not for good people but it is for repentant people.
For further references and Father Gregory's sermon notes click the link below: