Archpriest Vitalian (Drobotun)

Glory to Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters!

I congratulate you with the Holy Communion, with the sanctification of your souls and bodies.

Today we have heard very a short, but very deep Gospel about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke XVIII:10-14). Why did Jesus Christ tell that parable? The explanation is just at the top this Gospel. There is one sentence, when Jesus said: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” And next He told about some people, who exalted themselves with their righteousness, but in such way they humiliated other people. So Jesus decided to tell them such parable, that they could see and understand, that it was wrong to do like that.

We also should remember that our salvation is individual. Saint Seraphim of Sarov told: “Save your soul and thousands will be saved next to you.” We shouldn’t look at our relatives, friends, father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband and their ways to salvation. Firstly, we will answer in front of God only for ourselves. And absolutely other answer will be for our mission of bringing up kids, helping our close people in salvation. First of all we are responsible for our soul and the actions, which we have done to save it.

And if we are saving out soul, we understand that we are not perfect; so we need to improve ourselves to be like God. The Lord told us: “Be perfect, because Your Father is perfect, He is Saint.” And we want to be like He. So we must work on it every day, every hour. Ask God for help and keep thoughts and feelings in purity. Ask Him to purify you from the pride, that we did not act like that Pharisee. Maybe, at first He worked on his soul, kept his soul in purity. But later it might grow into formality, into a habit, that he came to pray with that judgment of other people.

Do you understand? We shouldn’t have such feelings. That is why we always should think: “Where is our soul now in the process of salvation? Is it suitable for God? Do you make a sin when we pray for something?”

That Pharisee knew all Old Testament, the Holy Writings, but he prayed in such way, maybe he thought that he did not make a sin. Maybe he did not realize that sin, maybe he did. Dear brothers and sisters, we should take care of our thoughts and don’t repeat his mistakes. Do not judge, never. Because if you judge some person for some sins, God will make the same situation for you and you can fall into this sin too. We should only trust God and ask Him for some strength for the salvation of our soul, strength to live religious life, do not sin, do good things, pray and forgive.

If we forget to pray and appeal to God, we slowly go deep into our pride. Because we do not ask for help, maybe we do not want to get His help, so we hope on ourselves more. And God goes further and further from us with His Angels. It happens not because He wants this, but because we do it with our free choice.

If we read all this chapter of the Luke’s Gospel, we will see at the beginning of it that God explains why we should pray constantly. He told about the judge and the widow, who came and annoyed him. She said: “Give me justice against my adversary”. And the judge neither feared God nor respected man. But she came to him many times and in the end he protected her, because she annoyed him. In the end of the parable God said: “Pray in the night and day and ask God for help. And the Lord will help you.” Because there are more God’s words: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”

When the Lord tells us all these parables He teaches us. Look at that widow, she ran constantly, bothered the judge and asked for help. What does this parable explain? We must constantly pray and ask for His help. He will help. If we need this help for salvation and good deeds, He will protect and help His children.

Next He taught that you should ask and God would give you, but did not become like that Pharisee, who came in the Temple and said: “Oh Lord, thank you, that I am so good and not like that sinners.” On one hand he started his prayer with gratitude, but that gratitude was a little bit wrong.

We start our prayer with the confession. We ask God to be merciful to us, that He purify, heal and help us in the salvation. And next we thank God for all good things, which He has done for us. That is why, dear brothers and sisters, look through the whole Gospel before the Liturgy. Because everything is very connected in it. And even one sentence can open the new meaning.

I explained you why God told that parable. Our life is like a parable, but everyone has its own. God gives the cross to everyone that we could go to the salvation. And even if we feel bad, we gather together, we pray and the Lord hears our prayers. God blesses us. We fell inspired, because the Holy Spirit is among us.

Dear brothers and sisters, save yourself and thousands will be saved next to you.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

About the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, about the prayer and the salvation