St Basil the Great tells us:
The Pharisee, who in his pride not only boasted of himself but also discredited the tax collector in the presence of God, made his justice void by being guilty of pride. Instead of the Pharisee, the tax collector went down justified, because he had given glory to God, the holy One, not even daring to lift his eyes but seeking only to plead for mercy.
Be on your guard, therefore! Bear in mind this example of severe loss sustained through arrogance. The one guilty of arrogance suffered the loss of his justice and forfeited his reward by his bold self-reliance. He was judged inferior to a sinner because in his self-exaltation he did not await the judgment of God but pronounced it himself. Never place yourself above anyone, not even great sinners. Humility often saves a sinner who has committed many terrible transgressions.
This weekend, February 5th and 6th, really begins our thinking of deepening our conversion as we approach the Great fast (Lent). The season of Lent begins on February 28th but we start getting more serious about Lent with Meatfare Sunday on the 20th.
So, the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, that is, this weekend’s gospel narrative is the Church’s way of saying to us, “let’s not delay, turn to the Lord now.” We have many opportunities to sincerely, systematically and decisively to consider and to act in favor of theois, that is, to be in clear our relationship with the Beatific Vision: seeing the Triune God face to face. That is, how do we gain our place in heaven. Do we really want to go to heaven when we die? Is it our goal?
The online resources here are meant to help us know and appreciate, to deepen and to explore our Melkite faith. These resources come from the good work of a Melkite team of priests and laity published at God With Us Online. When I say we have weekly resources, I mean the following:
- the Melkite Resurrectional Tone given in audio file
- the monthly catechetical reflection, here is February’s reflection
- the Melkite prayer texts for the home for this particular Sunday and useful for the week
- the Gospel reflection for Sunday, often done be the blood brothers and Melkite priests, Father Hezekias and Father Sebastian; this weekend it is Father Hezekias and Father Daniel Dozier (a onetime parishioner of our Waterford parish). This reflection is only 32 min.
Our preparation for the Sunday Liturgy sets the stage of how true we are when we say we want and need to know more of our faith. We are never too old to learn and to appreciate our Melkite faith.