Thursday, February 2, 2012

To Whom is the Lord Speaking in His Gospel?

The Gospel is read aloud at every Divine Liturgy and many other services in the Church but rarely do we find the need to question to whom the Lord is speaking. But I think it is interesting that on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Church excludes an important verse from the public reading. It remains in scripture of course, but for those who do not read the Holy Scriptures privately, this important verse may never be heard.
It was the sinful Publican (tax collector) who wept in shame of his sins that the Lord blessed that day in the Temple when He said, “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 18.14) Who is “the other” man but each one of us when we praise ourselves or elevate our own standing ahead of others no matter who the others may be.

The Pharisee lived an otherwise righteous life of prayer, fasting, and tithing, and followed the Letter of the Law. But he did so without love in his heart for his neighbor. He said, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” (Luke 18.11) Unfortunately he was blind to the PURPOSE of the Law which was meant to shape his life more in the image of God by loving others.

What is the missing verse? You’ll  have to look that one up yourself… Luke 18.9.

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