An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
Publican or Pharisee Please choose which one best describes you.
It seems that most everytime we reach this jumping platform into the pool the penitential season, I wrestle with this question. Oh, how easy it is for me to see myself as the Publican - not as one who recognizes and is genuinely sorrowful and repentant of his sins, but rather as the one who is the object of the Pharisee's prayer. You know, the person that the Pharisee says he is glad he isn't like: me.
For as long as I have been a Christian, I have felt like I have played this role...well, on second thought, perhaps not. I initially played the "holiness" pentecostal very well: don't drink, smoke, play cards, dance, or go to R rated movies. But was I holy? Hell no. Who has time to pray and REALLY be holy when you are so busy trying to work on presenting such a holy appearance?
With Orthodoxy we are in danger of exchanging one list of "holiness dont's" for a new set: Don't miss ANY services, don't eat meat or dairy on fast days, don't venerate the icons during the chanting of the six Psalms, don't let your kids make any noise in the Nave, etc.
But the Church in her calenderic wisdom has us not fasting AT ALL this week. Reminding us that the fast in and of itself is absolutely worthless. Worse than worthless it may make Pharisees of us all...unless the humility of the Publican rules over our hearts...MY heart.
No answer to the question of which character in the Parable I identify with is sufficient...in fact the question is utterly flawed. For what I need to learn is not to feel like the Publican seen by the eyes of the Pharisee, and also not to be the Publican whose eyes have been replaced with those of the Pharisees.
Even us sinners who frquently fail at keeping all of the "Holiness' donts" can still be Pharisees, though we may be reference points for the prayers of other more visible Pharisees.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me a sinner...and help me to look down into my own heart and to worry less about the hearts of others.
fr vadim this last sunday, quoting fr lev gillet, said that in some ways we SHOULD be like the pharisee, in that the pharisee was a virtuous man who lacked humility. he said it is too easy to condemn the pharisee and identify with the publican... that we need to be virtuous like the pharisee, but humble. humble and aware of our need for mercy even with out virtues. hmm.