Today: December 14 2018
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The secret of success. Talking a week about the publican and the Pharisee

The secret of success. Talking a week about the publican and the Pharisee

Tags: Religion, Christianity

The main condition necessary for a person to love is to have humility. The parable of the publican and the Pharisee, on the one hand, reveals to us the tragedy of a man who seemed to be right in the letter of the law. From this point of view, the Pharisee was a very good person, a good religious person, because he fulfilled all his duties, did everything prescribed by law. However, it was here he blundered, it is here that he stumbled, because he realized that the time has come when the commandments will fall away. Even faith will fall away, - so says the holy apostle Paul, - both faith and hope [1]. And what is left? Love, which means the perfection of the human person. Therefore, as the unique and highest commandment, the Lord gave us love - to God and neighbor.

At this moment I would like to stop my attention, because we Christians often have the following: we try to fulfill our duties, do what we can, try to live in the Church, but at the same time we continue to be barren and like a tree planted and lives, but has one leaf, no fruit.

The other day I was in the same temple, I will not tell you exactly what, because the Limassol is so easy to offend. So, I was in a church where a pious, good master helps in the altar. He has been in the church for many years, he is the right hand of the priest, he serves him and, when I go there, he does not forget to remind me how long he is helping and serving the Church. Of course, I tell him "bravo", since he wants to hear it.

The Metropolitan of Limassol, Athanasius (Nicolaou)
The Metropolitan of Limassol, Athanasius (Nicolaou)

On this day I served there, and there were small children in the altar. Naturally, they do something natvoryat. He grabbed one and shoved it into the corner of the altar. Well, I endured it, however. I'm basically nervous when I see this, but I did not say anything now. Minutes through 5-6 the same thing happens with the second one - he kicked him out. I said to myself: "Today we will quarrel with this gentleman!" When he seized the third child, I interceded:

"Why are you doing this to the children?"

"They have to be put out, they make a noise!"

"I think that from the altar someone else should come out, and not children!"

He took offense, went, sat in another corner and did not speak to me again. I will try to make sure that we have reconciled before Easter ... But I want to say the following and I often repeat this to my priests: you can imagine a person who lives in the temple right away, keeps God's word, goes to all liturgies - and He has such a cruel heart that even children do not touch him? Where is the fruit of the gospel, God's commandments? Those years spent in the Church, what do we end up with in the end? To cruelty, barbarity, insensitivity, to such rudeness that you can not say a few words to the child.

I'm not saying that children can do anything they want. I am against the fact that children do not know the boundaries, do in the temple what they want, and set it on fire. But, of course, the solution is not to throw them out, so that the poor child, knowing that the lord in the temple, was ready to fall through the earth with shame. Will he ever go to church again? Of course not. And you do not care if he returns or not.

True obedience to the commandments of God, the law and what was said in the prophets can not lead us to the autonomy of the commandments; on the contrary, it leads to the fact that you become the imitator of Christ in everything, that you will acquire a merciful heart, become merciful like our Father. If you do not have this, then why do you keep the commandments? It's like a patient who takes medication always at a certain time, does not miss anything, but never gets well. Only he takes medicine, drinks them on time, and all is ineffectual. Such is the religious man, who observes all the commandments, but never reaches the very goal of the commandments, and the goal of all our affairs is one - love of God, love. If you do not come to her, then how will you become like God and the true child of God?

With the unfortunate Pharisee this happened. He autonomized the commandments, and when he appeared before God, he, in effect, turned to himself, to his virtues. He really had them, but these virtues did not become the blessings of the Holy Spirit. They were the leaves of a tree, but no matter how good this tree was, it did not have any fruit. Christ therefore commanded that the fig tree should wither away, that it found only leaves on it [2]. A virtuous person, fathers say, is like a dried fig tree. He is a man who does everything, but has no fruit, only leaves. He stood up, examined himself and saw that he was self-sufficient, that he had nothing lacking.

Sometimes they say: "Explore yourself." I, to tell you the truth, do not lead self-observation, I confess. I say to myself: why should I lead self-observation if I am censured from top to bottom? Explore yourself to discover what I have done well? Like scouts: what kind of good deeds have we done today, and what are the bad ones?

Elder Paisius and the young father Athanasius
Elder Paisius and the young father Athanasius

Once the elder Paisy returned to the Holy Mountain after one absence. I went to see him, and he laughs. He speaks:

"Shall I tell you what happened to us on the road?"

- What happened to you?

- I left this place with that ...

It was his novice, virtuous, I will not mention his name, he is a good ascetic, but he stumbled a little on the part of the law. For whole years he did not go out into the world. And so he went out with the old man. In the boat they were sitting side by side, and the novice from time to time groaned and said:

- Oh, here we go out now into the world, and if we had anything, we will lose it!

A little later he sighs again:

"Ah, what's going on with us, we're going into the world!" If we had anything, we will lose!

Only arrived in Ouranopolis:

"Ah, here's Ouranopolis!" What is happening to us! So many years not to leave the Holy Mountain! Now, if we have achieved something, we will lose!

Elder Paisius finally said to him:

"Listen, I'll tell you, Father, like this: I did not have anything, and I did not lose anything." And you, who have something, be careful!

And really, who do you think you are? I do not feel that way myself. And what do I have to lose this to me? When I have nothing? I disappeared without a trace. What can I say that I had it and lost it? What did I have?

Abba Isaac the Syrian says something magnificent: "Who is the lowest, where to fall?" That is, who placed himself lower than all, since there is nowhere else to go lower, then he is the lowest and everything is higher than him.

So, a person, seeing in himself virtues and good deeds, starts to base on them, and from here the tragedy turns out, because such suffers the syndrome of the Pharisee. And then what does he do? He feels the need to thank God. You see, he is a pious man and says: "Thank you, God, that I am not like other people or like this tax collector" [3]. And then he points at the poor publican.

So, "Thank You, God, that I'm not like other people, You've given me so many virtues, and thank God! Of course, I'm a good man! "

Some people say sometimes:

"I'm so pleased, so let the Lord live and be healthy: whatever we ask, He gives everything to us!"

Yes, I say, let Him be alive and well, no matter what happens to Him, because in that case ... This God who gives us everything is kind, but if the hour comes when He will not give us what we we want, then He will not be good anymore! And then we will begin to reproach Him, saying: "God, how are you not ashamed? We go to church, we are such good people, we have done so many good deeds, and You instead of being kind to us, are kind to sinners and detractors, and to us, the righteous, you feel bad ?! "Because we, in fact, we believe that our good deeds bind God, and this feeling of having good deeds really spoils every person, especially us, who go to church.

Therefore, Christ pronounced those words that are not to our liking, but they are true: "Mytarians and harlots advance you to the Kingdom of God" [4]! Why? Not for their deeds, not because of them, but in spite of them. For the sake of their humility. The evidence is today's gospel reading.

The tax collector was acquitted not because he was a publican. Let no one say: "I will go and become a publican!" I will collect taxes, become a robber, evil if the tax collector entered paradise! "After all, the publican entered not because he was a publican. He was acquitted not for this reason, but for others. And the Pharisee, too, was not condemned for keeping the law. No. Christ in fact also very accurately observed the law, and all the saints observed exactly the commandments of God. He was convicted because he separated the law from the purpose of life, did not understand and did not want to accept that he needs to take one more step and that love is the end and purpose of the law.

The tax collector and the Pharisee. Ravenna mosaic of the 5th century.
The tax collector and the Pharisee. Ravenna mosaic of the 5th century.

Therefore, he could not go further, and how could he move on, how to love if he was a slave of selfishness? A selfish person can never love: he does not love anyone, because he loves only himself; he does not hear anyone, because he listens only to himself; he does not heal anyone, because he becomes a doctor to himself, and does not communicate with others, because he speaks only with himself, and worst of all, he does not even see what happens to him, because he is blind and does not see his nudity, illness and wounds . Because the Pharisee was condemned, that he did not allow to influence God's healing and bring the result.

While another, a publican, was a sinful, villain and accursed, but was justified from God, but not because he was a publican, sinful and bad, but because he found "the secret of success." What did he do? He rose from behind, bowed his head down, cried, beat himself in the chest and said: "God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" And this opened the doors of the Kingdom of God, and so the tax collector entered.

Therefore, tax collectors and sinners are ahead of you in the Kingdom of Heaven - not for their deeds, which are worthy of regret and which we should avoid, but for their ethos, because they had a healthy ethos before God and they did not show their good deeds as an excuse. They were not closed in their egoism, they did not have a trace of pride, they never believed that they were worthy of the Kingdom of God.

Avva Tikhon, Russian [5], said:

"I saw heaven and hell, and oh, what's happening there!" Hell is full of saints, but proud, and heaven is full of sinners, but humble sinners!

This is important, namely, that hell is full of proud saints, people doing good deeds, but never repenting, because they have always been good people. They never even suspected that they were missing something.

Want to test yourself? It's very easy: let each of you see if he is repenting before God. Pay attention: I did not say that we went to church, tore our hair and cried - I did not say that. This even before the confessor can be difficult and does not work. And we ourselves before God - do we weep for the loss of our salvation? Do you weep for your distance from God? Is the spiritual life really for us crying, sorrow, pain and almost despair because we can not be saved, and this will happen only according to God's mercy? If we do so and weep in our prayer, seeking God's mercy and forgiveness, then we have hope. But if we have never felt pain, we do not cry and we do not weep because of this, it means that there is something that, unfortunately, burdens our soul and prevents it from functioning correctly.

When I was on the Holy Mountain, in the New Skete, the first or second year after I became a confessor, do not ask me at what age it was, because you will be disappointed - there came one very spiritual person - a layman, he was not cleric, from Halkidiki. It was really a man of the Holy Spirit, very strong spiritually. I remember how he cried and sobbed on his first confession with me, so I even thought: "Most Holy Theotokos! What will I hear from him? So much crying and sobbing! He, of course, committed a murder! "And I was seized with anxiety in anticipation of what I would hear from him! Because for the first time I saw such crying.

On that day he again came to confess in the hermitage, where we lived. There was a Saturday, there were other visitors, and he said to me:

"Father, I want to confess!"

And I asked him:

"When are you going home?"

"I'll stay five or six days."

- Well, let's then I confess those who leave tomorrow, and if I have time, I confess you.

He answered me:

"Very well, Father, as you wish."

And this man waited a certain time before the temple. Time passed:

"You see, we will not be in time now, let's go on vacation," I told him, as the service at the monastery began at three o'clock in the morning. "If you stay here longer, then I'll see you tomorrow."

"How you will bless, father, there are no problems!"

In the morning we went to the service, served the liturgy, it was Sunday, and the service was long - 6-7 hours. He was standing in the back of the little corner. Do you know who he worked then? He had a car, and on it in the summer he sold sandwiches on the coastal street - where, you imagine what he saw there and what happened there. And in the winter he worked as a miner on the island of Halkidiki. He stood behind and prayed, bowing his head and crying. When the Liturgy was over, he went to the altar and said to me:

"I want to tell you something."

- But I can not now - I have not yet consumed the Holy Communion. "Come back later!"

But he said:

"Father, I beg of you!" I want to tell you something very serious! Something great has happened, I do not know what it is!

"What happened to you?"

"You know, during the holy liturgy, I was standing behind and thought that I was not worthy of communion because I told myself that if I were worthy of communion, then yesterday God would enlighten me to confess, and today, on Sunday, Communicate. And I looked at the fathers, the monks, all communion, except me. I said to myself: "For my sins God did not allow me to take communion." And I ask myself: "What do you think? Are you worthy to receive communion? God did everything for your sins! "

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

Look at the humble disposition and spirit of this man. When I went out with Holy Chalice to commune with the fathers and laymen, the poor man said to himself: "I can not come today, on a Sunday, on the Holy Mountain, and receive communion. But at least I want to see You from afar - and this will be enough for me! "He looked at the Holy Chalice, saw inside the Body and Blood of Christ, with which people communed. So he fell into a strong emotion, closed his eyes, and tears flowed from them. In this state, he suddenly felt that his mouth was filled with Holy Communion, and was embarrassed. And what was that? Unbeknownst to him, as a part of his mouth appeared a particle of the Body and Blood of Christ, which he swallowed; because he did not take communion with others, or ate anything, nothing. So, in this prayerful state ... After that, trembling, he came to the altar to tell what happened.

Of course, I did not explain very much to him, because these things do not explain to those who experience them, but he said to himself: "Look what humility means." We all received Communion on this day. But who actually communicated? This humble person, who did not consider himself worthy of communion, who was despicable, we did not even confess him and left him standing in a corner. God Himself communed, and he received the Body and Blood of Christ into himself through the grace of the Holy Spirit; it is impossible to explain it differently. He was not in the charm, nor was there room for charm even in this humble man.

I remember one story from the Paterik. In a certain monastery there were many fathers and one ordinary man, to whom the monks did not pay attention and kept it to themselves, so that he put firewood under the cauldron, that is, in the summer kitchen. They considered him despicable and outcast, and even in monks were not tonsured. He wore some old clothes, and he was held as if out of charity. The poor fellow worked in the church when there was a service, but he also put wood in the summer kitchen so that the fire did not go out, and was constantly smeared with soot, dirty, despicable, and nobody paid any attention to him.

Once, when he was in church, served a holy liturgy and the monks sang, he admired and was captured by the whole atmosphere of the liturgy. Brew in the boiler boiled, it began to pour over the edge, and a fire broke out in the summer kitchen. Then they shouted: "We are burning! Fire! "When he realized what had happened, this man said to himself:" Most Holy Theotokos! It's because of me! If the fire does not go out, a big fire may flare up! "He rushed into the fire, not thinking about it, began stirring the brew, throwing away the wood, the fire began to calm down and finally went out.

The monks were amazed, because they saw that he was standing on fire and was not burning. Hegumen of the monastery said:

- Fathers, God was in the summer kitchen, and not in the church! We, the church, could not approach the fire at all! He had come to hear a word from what we were saying for so many years. He was always soaked and soiled, we did not even get a monk to his monks, he never came with us to the temple. We held him here, so that he would put firewood in the summer kitchen. But in the end, God was there, with him, and not with us.

God is where there is humility. God is there, and in that, and with the one who never believed and did not think that God owes him, because "I do something because I pray, I'm awake, I fast, give alms", a lot of everything else. And we believe that if we do something, then we are no longer absolutely subject to perdition, rejection. "And I too represent something!" God, however, never happens to a man who has at least a trace of conceit, vanity and pride.

Therefore, brothers, today in the foundation of the spiritual path in Christ the fathers of the Church have placed humility and ethos on the publican. It is not the affairs of the publican, but his ethos, to show us how to begin the journey to find God in order to receive the Resurrection.

Many people ask:

- How can I gain God's grace?

And we start to say a lot of good and useful. But I think the following words from the Paterik will be the most suitable for all of us.

One monk, who wanted to become a hermit in the desert, went, found one great avvu and said to him:

"Father, tell me how to be saved?" Tell me a word from the Holy Spirit how to be saved!

The elder replied:

"Go, sit in your cell, and when you're hungry, eat." When you want to drink, drink. If you want to sleep, sleep. But just keep incessantly the words of the publican in your heart, and you will be saved! [6]

A man who has really reached the spiritual position of the publican, expressed in a howl: "God, merciful wake me, a sinner" - has already entered the Kingdom of God. He achieved the goal of the gospel, God's commandments, as well as the purpose for which God Himself became a Man.

I pray the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that He will teach us all, for indeed even ordinary logic tells us about the necessity of humility. Proud is reckless, he is insane, but, unfortunately, all of us in our pride are reckless and insane. I pray that God will instruct us, and we have always, especially in this blessed period of the Triodion, found the treasure of the publican in their hearts. And may God grant us the great freedom that a man feels, who has placed himself below all people.

[1] See: 1 Cor. 13: 8.

[2] See: Matt. 21: 18-19.

[3] See: Lk. 18: 11.

[4] Mt. 21: 31.

[5] We are talking about the Athonite ascetic Hieroschemonah Tikhon (Golenkov, 1884-1971), the spiritual father of the elder Paisius the Svyatogorets.

[6] Wed: Ancient Paterik, set out in chapters. Ch. 10. § 19 (16). M., 1991. S. 158; Memorable tales of the asceticism of holy and blessed fathers. About Abba Ammon. § 4. M., 2009. S. 52-53.

Metropolitan Athanasios Limassol
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