PUBLICAN AND PHARISEE SUNDAY
Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. ‘Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a Publican (tax collector).
‘The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that Publican over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you a tenth of all my income.’
‘But the Publican knelt at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you,’ said Jesus, ‘the Publican and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For everyone who makes himself great will be humbled and everyone who humbles himself will be made great.’ (Luke 18: 9 – 14)
A Publican was a tax collector who was a Jew but worked for the Roman Government. The ordinary Jews who viewed Publicans as unclean, unworthy and traitors to the Jewish race and faith despised Publicans. For Jesus to use a Publican in this story and make him the one who is right with God is to go against all established norms. What type of people would Jesus use today in place of the Publican?
Humility means to recognize that without God we really can do nothing. Without God’s love for us, our next breath would be impossible. It does not mean to put ourselves down excessively but to be honest about our shortcomings as well as our gifts.
The first Pre-Great Fast Sunday spoke to us about desire to see God. This Sunday speaks to us about Humility. In order to complete the Great Fast journey, we need to recognize that we are creatures, not Creator. God alone holds that title and we must bow before God in humility.
At the Saturday night Vespers, the Triodion makes its first appearance in the Liturgical Cycle of the Eastern Churches. The Triodion is a book that contains all the special parts for the Great Fast – Vespers, Matins, Tropars, Kondaks and the Canon of St. Andrew.
KONDAK (Tone 3)
Let us bring the sighs of the Publican to the Lord, * and as sinners let us prostrate ourselves before God, our Master, * for God wants salvation for all. * God offers forgiveness to all who repent. * Jesus became flesh for our sake, * God though he was, co-eternal with the Father.
O faithful, let us not pray as the Pharisee, for those who exalt themselves shall be humbled. Let us humble ourselves before God, and with the Publican let us say: God, be merciful to me a sinner.
WHAT CAN I DO IN MY CLASSROOM OR AT HOME?
· Tell the story of the Publican and Pharisee.
· Ask the children where they have heard the phrase: God, be merciful to me a sinner.
· Go through the Prayer Before Communion with the Children.
· Teach the children the Jesus Prayer:
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.
· Begin to prepare the children for Easter Confession by going through the steps.
· Who are the Publicans in our society today?
· Spend 5 minutes in silence before the Icon of Jesus.
· Make banners, bookmarks, or place mats with the phrase: God, be merciful to me a sinner.
· Explain what humility means to the children.
· Bring a Triodion to class to show the children, and use it for prayer.