As the period known as the Triodion begins, marking the beginning of the ten-week journey to Pascha, the Church reminds us that we should not spend our life justifying ourselves to ourselves. In order to be justified by God, we must humbly accept that we are sinners and that we are no better than anyone else. There will always be someone following the rules better than us. If we can embrace this truth, the journey to Pascha will be a blessing to us.
In the story of the Canaanite Woman in Matthew 15.21-28, heard both in the Holy Unction service and the Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew, is more for our healing than for her daughter. Christ, knowing her deep faith and humility, allows us to witness her devotion in the face of her pain and suffering. Her begging not for herself but for her daughter, combined with her willingness to accept whatever crumbs Christ would offer her, should be a lesson to us.
Nobody ever likes to hear about money in Church, but when the Gospel boldly speaks about money, as it does in Matthew 25.14-31, we cannot ignore the relationship that money has with our salvation. According to the Parable of the Talents, how we use (or do not use) the money which God has given to us, will be used when we are judged in the Kingdom of Heaven. We each have been given resources according to our ability, not to hide it but to use it to glorify God.
When we prepare our home for an important visitor, we spend time and effort preparing the house. We clean the house and cook and make sure everything is just right for the important visitor. When it comes to welcoming Christ into our soul, what are we doing to prepare for His visit? Do we clean our soul? Do we prepare our heart? In the story of Zacchaeus, because he knew Christ was approaching, he went out of his way to get ready to see Him.