Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee
This Sunday begins our annual journey to the Holy Resurrection - Pascha. We hear in the gospel reading assigned for this day, how two people approach prayer.
The Pharisee, a zealous follower of the law of Moses has built himself a palace out of his supposed virtues. However it stands on sand, it will not pass the test of life's trials.
Проповедь на русском
Today we remember the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia – the countless multitude that suffered and died as a result of the Communist persecution in the 20th century. The Church however, is indestructible. As the persecution of Christians in Apostolic times only spread Christianity and strengthened it, so the blood spilled by the Russian martyrs saw Orthodoxy spread to new countries with emigration.
This presents an interesting situation whereby our Church in Brunswick East is split 50/50 between Russian and English speakers. Father Nicholas Karipoff discusses the importance of nationalism for human collective identity in the wake of faceless globalism; however, he calls for the Church to be a spiritual place that transcends nationalist boundaries.
The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.
Father Nicholas compares the gospel reading of the blind man who suffered and received consolation on earth, to Saint Maximus the Confessor (or Theologian) for whom the opposite was the case.
Saint Maximus (c.580-662) was born into a wealthy family and left it behind to enter a monastery. A theologian and a scholar, he single-handedly stood up against the heresy of Monothelitism. For this Saint Maximus was persecuted: following a trial his tongue and right hand were cut off. Though he was hated and suffered in this life, the story of Saint Maximus shows what one person can do.
Since the fall, human beings have been asking, what does it mean to suffer?
Father Peter discusses the question, what is critical for our salvation? Christ tells the rich lawyer who has fulfilled all the obligations of the law externally to go and sell his possessions: which fills the man's heart with sorrow, such was his passion for his riches.
Why does Christ make such a dramatic statement -
Father Nicholas delivers a sermon on the gospel reading by Luke (13:10-17) where Jesus heals a woman who was crippled for 18 years. Christ addresses the woman, using the Word of Love and creates a miracle.
Words can also have destructive power, as embodied in this gospel reading by the ruler of the synagogue.
An icon is a window into eternity, and so is the word of God. One word opens up eternity. The word of God is God Himself and it is Love.