On Sunday, as I mentioned then, we in the Orthodox Church found ourselves on what we call the Publican and the Pharisee Sunday. Each year as we prepare for Great Lent, three weeks prior to its start, we are reminded of this parable.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘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, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:10-14
We are reminded of this that we may enter lent humble as the publican and not haughty as the pharisee. We are reminded that it isn’t the deeds that we have done or the laws that we have kept that bring us to salvation but rather a humble heart, a sincere crying out to God for His mercy. True repentance.
We not only read this Gospel passage but we also sing beautiful hymnography reminding us the importance of being like the publican.
This one is one of my favorites because it is not only a hymn but also a prayer from my heart…
Mine eyes are weighed down by my transgressions, and I cannot lift them up and see the height of heaven. But receive me, Savior, in repentance as the Publican and have mercy on me.
There is another hymn we sang this weekend for the first time since Great Lent of last year. It is so beautiful. We sang it for the first time and we will sing it each weekend up until the end of Great Lent. It is called Open to Me the Doors of Repentance.
Open to me the doors of repentance, O Lifegiver,
For my spirit rises early to pray towards thy holy temple.
Bearing the temple of my body all defiled;
But in Thy compassion, purify me by the loving kindness of Thy mercy.
Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen
Lead me on the paths of salvation, O Mother of God,
For I have profaned my soul with shameful sins,
and have wasted my life in laziness.
But by your intercessions, deliver me from all impurity.
Have mercy on me O God, according to Thy great mercy,
and according to the multitude of Thy compassions,
blot out my transgressions.
When I think of the many evil things I have done, wretch that I am,
I tremble at the fearful day of judgement.
But trusting in Thy living kindness, like David I cry to Thee:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.
Are you ready for Great Lent?
I look forward to it each year. I am ready to settle down into a quieter routine, a contemplative one. One in which I hope to hear the whispers of God a little easier. I hope I can carry it through.
Have a blessed week, friends!