Theology

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee

Introduction

The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is the first Sunday of a three-week period prior to the commencement of Great Lent. It marks the beginning of a time of preparation for the spiritual journey of Lent, a time for Orthodox Christians to draw closer to God through worship, prayer, fasting, and acts of charity. It is also on this day that the Triodion is introduced, a liturgical book that contains the services from this Sunday, the tenth before Pascha (Easter), to Great and Holy Saturday.

Saint Mark the Archbishop of Ephesus

Saint Mark Eugenikos, Archbishop of Ephesus, was a stalwart defender of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence.

He would not agree to a union with Rome which was based on theological compromise and political expediency (the Byzantine Emperor was seeking military assistance from the West against the Moslems who were drawing ever closer to Constantinople). Saint Mark countered the arguments of his opponents, drawing from the well of pure theology, and the teachings of the holy Fathers. When the members of his own delegation tried to pressure him into accepting the Union he replied, “There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.”

Pharisee and sinner

In order to understand this Bible story properly, we should remind ourselves what the roles of Publicans and Pharisees were in Judean society at the time of Christ’s ministry. The Pharisees belonged to a Jewish sect, known for its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and the coming of a Messiah. They belonged to the middle-class of society, and also believed in an afterlife and the resurrection of the dead. They regarded themselves as righteous people, and their relationship with God was purely legalistic. By certain historical records, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem A.D. 70, there were around six thousand of them. Publicans were actually tax collectors employed by Romans – occupiers of Judea at the time. They were obliged to pay an agreed amount to the Romans, and whatever was left over they were permitted to keep for themselves. They grossly overcharged people extorting money from them. This was the primary reason they were despised and hated by their own people.

St. Athanasius the Great the Patriarch of Alexandria

Saint Athanasius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria, was a great Father of the Church and a pillar of Orthodoxy. He was born around the year 297 in the city of Alexandria into a family of pious Christians. He received a fine secular education, but he acquired more knowledge by diligent study of the Holy Scripture. In his childhood, the future hierarch Athanasius became known to Saint Alexander the Patriarch of Alexandria (May 29). A group of children, which included Athanasius, were playing at the seashore. The Christian children decided to baptize their pagan playmates.

Why we don’t fast during the week of the Publican and Pharisee, and other questions

Question: Hello Father! Why don’t we observe the Wednesday and Friday fast during the week of the Publican and the Pharisee? Thank you! Respectfully, Olga.

Answer by Hieromonk Job (Gumerov):

The parable of the publican and the Pharisee gives an image of the spiritual truth that God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (Js. 4:6). The Pharisees were representatives of the social-religious trend in Judea during the second century B.C. Their distinguishing characteristic was an intense zeal for observing the Law of Moses. Religious life requires that a person be attentive to himself, that he have moral sensitivity, humility, and pure intentions. If he doesn’t have these, a hardness of heart gradually creeps in on him. Then a pseudo-spirituality inevitably comes. The result is spiritual death. If instead of humility there is self-opinion and pride, instead of sacrificial love there is spiritual egoism, then it is not hard for the devil to take over such a person and make him an accomplice in his evil deeds. People who are unbelieving or spiritually inattentive do not even know or guess how often they do just what the enemy of our salvation wants them to do.

Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles

Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles
Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles
Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles
Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles

Commemorated January 4/17

The Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles was established by the Orthodox Church to indicate the equal honor of each of the Seventy. They were sent two by two by the Lord Jesus Christ to go before Him into the cities He would visit (Luke 10:1).

The Name of the Lord is a Fortress

A Homily for the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord. On the Naming of Jesus. On the Jesus Prayer

Today, on the eighth day after the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior, according to the ancient sacred custom, is brought to the Temple of the Lord, and, as an eight-day-old infant, is dedicated to the Heavenly Father, enduring the cutting of His flesh for our sake, foreshadowing the shedding of His Blood on the Cross, indicating thereby His lifegiving death on the Cross. He endures suffering for our sake, manifesting His great condescension and love for mankind fallen into sin, purifying and sanctifying it. On this day is accomplished the naming of the Divine Infant by the righteous Joseph with the sacred name of Jesus—an earthly, human name, but announced to the righteous one by the angel descended from Heaven. From today, this name is adopted by the Divine Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, uniting within Himself His human nature like unto ours and His unseen Divine nature.