‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Today’s parable, my dear brothers and sisters, is a vivid painting like a drawing of souls. Our Holy Church presents to us the parable of the publican and the Pharisee, wanting to lead us to repentance. We heard today a lot about the virtues of the Pharisee, but nothing about his repentance. We also heard about the repentance of the publican, but not about any of his virtues. The soul of a moral thinking and acting people create the following queries: “Are virtues useless? The Pharisee fasted and made charities did he labor in vain? Why was he not vindicated for his good virtues, but only the publican who had no virtues, but merely asked for God’s mercy? “. We have to be very careful when we answer those questions.
The case of the Pharisee characterizes the feeling of self-righteousness. His virtues are good, enviable, accepted and not rejected. The Pharisee did not expect justice from God for him is sufficient that his works are justifying him. That is why his repentance is not fulfilled »he does not need it, he is moral and law-abiding, deeply religious, bred within the religious community, and he enforces the law in full accordance with the letter of the law, he desire to be pious but isn’t, and he also wants to be seen righteous before God and men, and furthermore, as a self-lover bragging, because he requires the recognition by righteous by the people that are praying with him.
The publican was nothing but a sinner with a deep sense of sinfulness, aware of his many mistakes, and possibly great injustices towards his fellow men, with enviable humility and sincere repentance without hypocrisy. His words were straight, short, productive determination, with truthful emotions. The tax collector knows who he is, what he is not and what he wants. He has been looking for himself, has been researching the depths of his heart, and was disappointed with his life, he wanted to fill his interior space not with virtue, but with holy mercy.
He is no longer interested in the world he is praying a lot, hiding from the eyes of other people because he understands that he wouldn’t be justified by them but by God Himself. A modern saint said: “The presentation of the spirit of man in God’s judgment shows the way to the awareness of sin. By the judicious control of the internal situation of man one is persuaded that he who does not respect the mandate must thereby come to repentance. And the more deeply humiliated by self-condemnation a man is, the more he rises with the help of God. ” Good and holy are the virtues of the Pharisee. Let us not care for those. Much better is the repentance and humiliation of the publican. God “is proud of the humble He gives grace.”
The same scene is happening today, my brethren inside Christian churches in society. The same character is repeated. Today, the Pharisees of Christianity, having the illusion of salvation, are fulfilled inside the assumed righteousness in their morbid faith, ready to throw the stone of contrition to those outside the church. They are arranged by applying the rules of the church for them and think they are entitled to prejudge those who committed wrongdoings. On the other hand, the modern publicans do not learn about spiritual life, the waste of the world, which no hand was found to drive them to Church, which perhaps no Pope was found to help him with his humble saint example, often they have a sense of their sinfulness and perhaps hide a remarkable spiritual majesty, thereby surprising God.
As you climb the ladder of virtues, the more you risk to get dizzy from the vertigo of pride and to fall from a higher point each time. That is why you need to pay attention and show humility because the ladder of virtues is a blessed challenge. The lower you descend the ladder of repentance, even if you has no virtues, the more secure you feels, because the last step in no danger. We need to descend for our spiritual purpose and not for the purpose of rising. We need to descent to the depths of hearts, which is our connection to the heights of the divine holy kingdom. Let’s arrogate, my brethren, the self-righteous virtue and publican repentance, crying out to our Heavenly Father of mercies, “God, be merciful to me the sinful one”. Amen.