January 21, 2018

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, Tone 8; Our Venerable Father Maximus the Confessor (662); the Holy Martyr Neophytus (284-305); the Holy Martyrs Eugene, Candidus, Valerian, and Aquilas

2 Timothy 3:10-15; Luke 18:10-14

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

This Sunday, as we approach the Great Fast, a time to draw closer to God through worship, prayer, fasting, and acts of charity, we are given an example of how to properly prepare ourselves for that spiritual journey of Lent. The main theme of the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee is repentance and humility.

Repentance is the door through which we enter Lent, the starting-point of the journey to Pascha. To repent signifies far more than self-pity or futile regret over things done in the past. The Greek term metanoia means “change of mind.” To repent is to be renewed, to be transformed in our inward viewpoint, to attain a fresh way of looking at our relationship with God and with others. The fault of the Pharisee is that he has no desire to change his outlook; he is complacent, self-satisfied, and so he allows no place for God to act within him.

The Publican, on the other hand, truly longs for a “change of mind.” He humbles himself, and his humility justifies him before God. He acknowledges that he is a sinner, and he knows that salvation is only found in the mercy of God. Here we find an example of true humility, an essential aspect of repentance. A “change of mind” and the transformation of our lives can only happen when we humble ourselves before God, acknowledge our willingness to turn from sin, and receive His grace into our lives.

Let us today approach the Lord in true humility and with repentance, for only through them we can attain deeper communion with God and receive His forgiveness.