On the Sunday of the Pharisee and Publican, Fr. Matthew Howell explains how the Orthodox Church gives us our Lenten struggles in order to realign, reorient, and recalibrate our relationship with God. He also talks about how the pride of the Pharisee is contrasted with the humility of the Publican, showing how pride leads to delusion, arrogance, egocentrism, and ultimately judgment of neighbor. At one point he says, “The Pharisee was in relationship with three people: me, myself, and I. But the Publican was pursuing relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” But in order to realign ourselves with God, we must avoid playing “armchair quarterback” with our neighbor, our priest, our bishop, and everyone else who does not live up to our expectations or mirror our thoughts and behaviors. We must then recognize with all humility that we are broken and wounded sinners. Along the way, he mentions the Super Bowl, pokes fun at himself for an eye condition he’s currently dealing with, and gives the most outlandish example of pride ever uttered at a parish council meeting.
2 Timothy 3:10-15
TIMOTHY, my son, you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at lconion, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Lord said this parable, “Two men went up into 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 like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up 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, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”