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Publican and Pharisee Sunday

Have mercy on me! The phrase is short; but it holds within it a sea of loving trust; for where there is mercy, there all good things are. Though you move not your lips, cry out in your soul: for even the prayer of the silent is heard by the Lord.

It is not a place that is to be looked for, but the Master of the place. Jeremiah lay in squalor, and the Lord hearkened to his prayer. Job prayed from his dunghill, and the Lord was gracious to him. Jonah was in the belly of a whale, and the Lord listened to his prayer. And you, even if you are in the baths, pray; wherever you are, pray; do not seek for a place to pray in: you yourself are a temple.

The sea lay in the path of the Jews. Behind them were the Egyp­tians. Between stood Moses, silent. For in great anguish of mind he was praying. And you, when temptation shall come against you, fly to God, call upon the Lord. Your prayer is scarce ended, and God is offering you a remedy for your need. For if you have a mind free from all impure affections, though you stand in the market place or the street, or are present at a trial, or by the sea, or at an inn, or in your workshop, in a word wherever you may be, by call­ing on the Lord you can obtain what you ask for.

What is the meaning of stretching out hands in prayer? They have been the instrument of many iniquities, and because of this we are bidden to lift them up, that the ministry of prayer may serve them as a fetter against evildoing, as a withdrawal from iniquity, so that should you be on the point of committing a theft, of oppressing or striking another, you may remember that you must raise those hands in pleading before God, and by means of them offer up a spiritual sacrifice. Do not dishonor them; do not deprive themoftheir office of pleading by using them in the service of evil. Purify them by almsdeeds, by works of mercy, by protecting those in dis­tress, and thus you will uplift them in prayer. For if you would not raise them in prayer unwashed, much less will you, being just, stain them with sin. For if you fear to pray with unwashed hands, which is a small offense, much more fear what is graver. For to pray with unwashed hands is not such a grievous thing; but to uplift them in prayer, stained with innumerable crimes, brings down wrath and destruction.

St. John Chrysostom





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