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Publican and Pharisee Sunday

S. V. Bulgakov, "Handbook for Church Servers"
 

The name of this first preparatory Sunday was received from the appointed Gospel reading of the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, from which the first, from the image of the parable, left the temple for his house more justified than the second. By the example of one and the other the Holy Church points out the true beginning and basis of repentance: humility and, on the other hand, the main source of sin and obstacle to repentance, pride. According to the words of the Holy Church, "every good deed is made of no effect through foolish pride, while every evil is cleansed by humility." Without the humble consciousness of one's sinfulness one cannot alone have the appropriate sense of one's high external righteousness. In this idea the faithful also should begin the ascetical effort of fasting and repentance. In accordance with this core content, the Holy Church in all its services for this Sunday, especially in the Vespers and Matins stichera and in the troparia of the canon, denouncing, agreeing with the Gospel parable, the self-righteous pride of the Pharisee, praises the humility of the Publican and calls each of us to reject "the swollen boasting and evil folly of the Pharisee, his loathsome pride, and the wicked cruelty hateful to God" to lay aside self-conceit about one's imaginary worthiness and perfection, the self sufficiency of one's imaginary righteousness to humble oneself by consciousness of one's unworthiness and guilt before God, to condemn oneself, as a sinner, worthy of condemnation and judgment, and beating one's breast to pray: "God be merciful to me a sinner". If each of us will pray, according to the example of the Publican, with a broken heart and humble spirit, undoubtedly, we will receive great mercy from the One to whom all hearts are open: the Lord opens to us the door of repentance, will lead us into the holy and redemptive days of the Holy Forty Day Fast, will enable us by His grace to bring us to true repentance that we may receive complete remission and forgiveness.

 


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