Father Rodney Torbic

January 15 / 28, 2018


The Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee

Luke 18:10-14

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (KJV)

The Gospel is specific in saying the Pharisee and tax collector went to the temple to pray. Individuals come to church for different reasons. Many people come to church seeking answers to prayer.

Many people bring their problems to church hoping to be relieved of burdens or the healing of illnesses affecting the self or a loved one. It is good to be conscious of the Churchís intent in the holding of specific services.

The Gospel of the Publican and Pharisee comes during the preparation for Great Lent. This particular Gospel establishes a particular tone and orientation for the coming of Great Lent.

A believerís experience with and understanding of God is of primary importance. The Lenten journey is intended to improve that experience and understanding.

The Lenten journey increases in value according to the seriousness of the believer investing in the journey. The Gospel of the Publican and Pharisee is a measurement for believers to personally use.

Believers seeking to fully experience the life in Christ need to be humble and non-judgmental. Looking askance at others and having demeaning thoughts about others is perilous to the soul.

The Pharisee and tax collector have contrasting postures before God as they come to pray. Believers do well to think about the content of their prayers and demeanor in prayer.

Each believer benefits from considering the content of personal prayer. The Lord Jesus Christ said: ďWhy do you look at the speck in your brotherís eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?Ē (Mt. 7:3)

Prayer to God is communication with God. Prayer to God reveals a personís attitude toward God and about the self. Prayer to God reveals a personís interests and goals. Prayer to God reveals a personís degree of sincerity and humility.

Prayers to God do not need to be long. Long prayers can be beneficial. Praying with and in the Church is the responsibility of being a believer. The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is an opportunity to assess the self.

Does the believer come before God more in the way of the Pharisee or of the tax collector? Each believer needs to determine the personal changes necessary to secure the prayerful humility of the tax collector.

The Gospel message of the Publican and Pharisee is a direct teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers determine the degree they will listen to the Lord Jesus Christ. Serious believers give great heed to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Sunday Gospel messages are always important. The Sunday Gospels have defining value in the lives of attentive believers. The arrival of the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee is to be welcomed with great anticipation.

The Gospel message of the Publican and Pharisee is a strong message to save the soul and protect it from becoming cold and hardened. The Pharisee was convinced of his own importance and superiority as a religious figure.

The Pharisee held himself above others including the tax collector nearby. He put himself in a special category. We have to ask ourselves if our thoughts parallel the thoughts of the Pharisee.

We have to ask if we ascribe to ourselves a greater degree of importance than we consider ascribed to others. We have to ask if we ascribe to ourselves a greater superiority than we consider appropriated to others.

The basic question to be answered is whether we are in the best relationship we can be with God and the people we meet each day. The Gospel of the Publican and the Pharisee is direct message from the Lord Jesus Christ.

This Gospel message is capable of bringing change to the heart of the attentive believer. Change for the better is continuously expected of each believer. Growth in Christ can occur throughout life for individuals willing to repent of sins.

The Pharisee maintained a position before God that he was very good. His prayer did not express a need for change or for help from God. How often do we see ourselves not needing to change or in denial of sins?

How often do we resist change and the giving up of practices that are harmful to the soul? How often do we resist undertaking practices that we know are beneficial to the soul?

How often do we rationalize behavior that we know is not good? When we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ at His glorious Second Coming, we will need to answer for our thoughts and our actions.

We will need to answer for any inaction that we should have taken that would have been appropriate. Now is the time to break down any barriers we have that keep us from being united with Christ.

Now is the time to pray to God with sincerity. Now is the time to focus on Christ and our relationship with Him. Now is the time to consider our own sins and only our own sins. Now is the time to seek the mercy and forgiveness of God.



No. 12. The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.
January 15 / 28, 2018.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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