Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee
St. Nicholas Bulletin - February 21, 2021
Christ is in our midst! Христос међу нама! Cristo entra esta nosotros
The Publican and the Pharisee
Homily from Fr. Paul Coats
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

In today’s Gospel, Christ tells what must be a shocking parable to many who were doing their best to obey God, as good Jews, and be obedient to the law to the best of their ability. In this parable, it seems that all the best efforts of those trying extra hard to follow God, the Pharisees, are said to be of little value.

With this parable and others like it, for some Christ shattered their whole belief system. He takes someone despised as a lawless sinner, a tax collector, and says that this man can be justified simply by a sincere acknowledgment of his sin, and a request for mercy. This must have been outrageous to those who were convinced that strict obedience to God’s law was the only way to please God and have salvation. After all, isn’t this what all the prophets, beginning with Moses, had said? Isn’t this what God had been communicating with his people all along?

In regard to zealously following the Law and trying to obey the commandments, Christ was on the side of the Pharisee! We must remember that at the very beginning of his teaching ministry, Christ said, Do not think I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, I have come to fulfill them. And further, whoever relaxes the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; he who does them and teaches others to do so, will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ was pleased with the Pharisee’s good works.

But listen to his next words: For unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And Christ goes on to talk about the kind of righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees: not only do not kill, but do not even be angry with another. Not only stay chaste in marriage, but do not lust—you must be chaste in your mind, too. Instead of being fair (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth), suffer injustice. Instead of loving those who love you, love those who hate you. And lest we think the bar is set too high, he simply confirms it: You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is the radical inner righteousness that Christ requires of us.

Christ does not condemn the Pharisee for being honest, just, and moral as the Pharisee claimed himself to be. But the Pharisee’s righteousness was incomplete. His pursuit of righteousness did not lead to love for God or men. He had started down the path of righteousness, toward God, but on the way he took a wrong turn! He had probably started honestly, as many of the Pharisees, such as St. Paul, had started out honestly in pursuit of God. But it had taken such a wrong turn that even someone who had not even started on the path—the tax collector in the story—was ahead of him.

What was the problem here?

One of the things I learned very early growing up in rural northern Illinois was how to find the North Star in the night sky. We would sometimes be out camping or even hiking in the woods at night, and we needed a way to orient ourselves and find our way back home, back to the road, or back to the camp. If we tried to get a sense of direction from things on earth, things around us, the landscape, some lights in the distance, or trees, we were very likely to get lost in the dark. . . things didn’t seem as they really were at night, and so forth. But if we could find the North Star, we could find our way. In other words, it took a permanent, unchanging reference point to find our way; the moon didn’t work, it changed locations constantly . . . the other stars didn’t work, they also changed directions. But the North Star is always in the same location, directly north, and never moves.

How had the Pharisee gotten so far off track? I think it was this: the Pharisee had as his reference point other people, instead of God. He didn’t have his eyes on God’s righteousness and holiness, he had his eyes on other people.

And this was disastrous, because in his sinfulness and pride, this led to exalting himself above others, inwardly condemning others, and despising them. And so therefore he really blew it. Because of this wrong turn, all his good works were useless, because they strayed from the ultimate goal. Not only that, but he had turned 180 degrees and was using his works of righteousness as a weapon against others, to condemn them, and to despise them.

The tax collector, on the other hand, saw no one but God. He wasn’t looking at the Pharisee . . . he didn’t even physically look up to God, out of shame. But this was because God was too present in his vision. It’s safe to say the only thing in his mind, the only thing in his inner vision, was God and his righteousness. And making God his reference point, he was able to honestly pray the prayer, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. And here, we have what is essentially the Jesus Prayer, one more time. In recent Sundays we heard it from the blind beggar, we heard it from the Canaanite woman, and today we have it from Christ’s own words, which he put in the mouth of the tax collector as he tells this story.

This story that Christ tells should never be used to somehow try to promote “having faith” over and against good works. This is a false opposition. Christ commanded good works. Good works are meant to be a means to learn true love of God and others, just as the Law was also meant as a means to learn to love God, for the Jews. Orthodox spirituality teaches that we cannot cultivate love for God in our hearts without overt acts of mercy and service to others. In two weeks, we will hear the parable of the Last Judgment to drive this home.

But this parable is a strong warning from Christ that our good works can become a curse if we turn from our true reference point; that good works are meant to lead us to repentance, not self-justification; that our good works are a necessary beginning, and paradoxically the end fruit, of a heart turned toward God, a heart that recognizes its own need for God, a heart that truly loves God with everything it has, and other people as well.

So today Christ warns us strongly about comparing ourselves to others. . . using others, instead of God, as our reference point. I have found this to be very subtle. Do you find yourself subtly judging others? This is an inward disposition that leaves no room for true love. It’s destructive to others because it is not loving them; it’s destructive to ourselves, because it breeds a confidence in oneself, a trusting in ourselves for our own salvation.

Not everyone struggles with this. There are those who have been given the grace of compassion and full acceptance of others. But for those of us who do struggle with it, it is one of the hardest things to stop. When we see someone who bothers us, or who is so different from us in personality and interests and approach, we may almost involuntarily and automatically judge that person. But we become the Pharisee in the parable when we do that.

I have one suggestion in this regard: one of the quickest cures for this is to pray for people we are tempted to judge, and ask God to bless them with all the same things that we ask God to bless us with. Inwardly, then, we’re giving to that person, serving them, and not judging and condemning them. It’s a double blessing—we are released from the sin of comparison, judgment, condemnation and pride, and they are the recipients of a prayer heard by God, and God will honor that prayer in the way best for both the one who prays and the one prayed for.

Brothers and sisters, we are in the preparatory Sundays leading up to Great Lent. We will soon be saying the prayer of St. Ephraim, which ends with “grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother.” Let us begin to prepare, then, by trying to set aside the comparing of ourselves to others, completely. Let us set our eyes on the true reference point, our Lord Jesus Christ. The more we do this, the more we will be able to pray the prayer of the tax collector with sincerity, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. We will not inwardly exalt ourselves over others, and our good works will be a blessing to us and to others and will lead to the love of God. May Christ strengthen us all for this. AMEN
~Hymnography of the Day~
RESURRECTION TROPARION—TONE 4
When the women Disciples of the Lord learned from the Angel the joyous message of the Resurrection, they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the Apostles: “Death is overthrown! Christ God is risen, granting the world great mercy!”

MEETING OF OUR LORD TROPARION—TONE 1
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, Full of Grace! From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, enlightening those who sat in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous Elder, you accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls, Who grants us the Resurrection!

HOLY FATHER NICHOLAS TROPARION—TONE 4
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Nicholas, entreat Christ our God / that our souls may be saved. 

GREATMARTYR THEODORE THE GENERAL—TONE 4
Truly enlisted with the King of Heaven, you became an outstanding general for Him, passion-bearer Theodore; you armed yourself wisely with the weapons of faith and conquered hordes of demons, revealing yourself as a victorious athlete. Therefore, in faith we always call you blessed. 

PUBLICAN AND PHARISEE KONTAKION—TONE 4
Let us flee from the pride of the Pharisee! Let us learn humility from the Publican’s tears! Let us cry to our Savior: “Have mercy on us, O only merciful One!”

MEETING OF OUR LORD KONTAKION—TONE 1
By Your nativity, You did sanctify the Virgin’s womb, and did bless Simeon’s hands, O Christ God. Now You have come and saved us through love. Grant peace to all Orthodox Christians, O only Lover of man! 


Instead of “It is truly meet,” we sing: TONE 3: 

O Virgin Theotokos, hope of all Christians, protect, preserve, and save those who hope in you! In the shadow and letter of the Law, let us, the faithful, discern a figure: every male child that opens the womb is holy to God. Therefore we magnify the firstborn Word of a Father Who has no beginning, the Son firstborn of a Mother who had not known man.



~Scripture Readings of the Day~
READERS:
Matins: Lenny Tepsich Epistle: Natalija Gligorevic
Matins Next Week: Nicholas Ressetar Epistle Next Week: Teddy Sukhernik

EPISTLE: II Timothy 4: 9-15
 
DEACON:      Let us pay attention. 
PRIEST:        Peace be unto all!
READER:      And with your spirit!
DEACON:      Wisdom.
READER:      The Prokeimenon in the Fourth Tone: O Lord, how manifold are Your works; in wisdom have You made them all!
CHOIR: O Lord, how manifold are Your works; in wisdom have You made them all!
READER: v: Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord, my God, You are very great!
CHOIR: O Lord, how manifold are Your works; in wisdom have You made them all!
READER: O Lord, how manifold are Your works.
CHOIR: In wisdom have You made them all!
DEACON: Wisdom!
READER: The Reading is from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to Timothy.
DEACON: Let us attend!
READER: Timothy my son, you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
PRIEST: Peace be unto you, reader!
READER: And with your spirit! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
CHOIR: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
READER: Go forth, prosper and reign, for the sake of meekness, righteousness and truth!
CHOIR: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
READER: For You love righteousness, and hate iniquity.
CHOIR: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

АПОСТОЛ: II Тимотеју 3: 10-15

Ђакон:          Пазимо
Свештеник: Мир свима!
Читач:           I Духу Твоме!
Ђакон:          Премудрост
Читач : ПРОКИМЕН- глас 4 Како је много дјела Твојих, Господе! Све си премудро створио.
Хор: Како је много дјела Твојих, Господе! Све си премудро створио.
Читач: Благослови, душо моја Господа! Господе Боже мој, велик си веома.
Хор: Како је много дјела Твојих, Господе! Све си премудро створио.
Читач: Како је много дјела Твојих, Господе! 
Хор: Све си премудро створио.
Ђакон: Премудрост
Читац: Читање је од посланице Светог апостола Павла до Тимотеја.
Ђакон: Пазимо
Читач: Чедо Тимотеје, ти си следовао мојој науци, живљењу, настројењу, вјери, дуготрпљењу, љубави, истрајности, гоњењима, страдањима која ми се догодише у Антиохији, у Иконији, у Листри. Каква гоњења претрпјех и од свих избави ме Господ! А и сви који хоће да живе побожно у Христу Исусу биће гоњени. А зли људи и опсјенари напредоваће од зла на горе, варајући и варајући се. Но ти стој у томе што си научио и што си се увјерио, знајући од кога си се научио, и што из дјетињства знаш свештене списе који те могу умудрити за спасење кроз вјеру у Христа Исуса.
 
Свештеник: Мир ти читачу!
Читач: I Духом Твоме! Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа
Хор: Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа
Читач: Похитај, напредуј и владај, ради истине, кротости и правде.
Хор: Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа
Читач: Љубиш правду и мрзиш безакоње.
Хор: Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа

LITURGY GOSPEL:  
Luke 18: 10-14

At that time the Lord spoke this parable, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 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.”


ЈЕВАНЂЕЉЕ:   
Лука 18: 10-14

У вријеме оно Господ је изговорио ову параболу, два човјека уђоше у храм да се моле Богу, један фарисеј а други цариник. Фарисеј стаде и мољаше се у себи овако: Боже, хвала ти што нисам као остали људи: грабљивци, неправедници, прељубници или као овај цариник. Постим двапут у седмици; дајем десетак од свега што стекнем. А цариник издалека стајаше, и не хтједе ни очију уздигнути небу, него се бијаше у прса своја говорећи: Боже, милостив буди мени грјешноме! Кажем вам, овај отиде оправдан дому своме, а не онај. Јер сваки који себе узвисује понизиће се, а који себе понизује узвисиће се.

~ The Week Ahead: Scriptures and Services ~
February Birthdays
Linsay Barry (Feb 1), Lincoln Grey Moore (Feb 5), Pete & Joe Petrovich (Feb 6), Jasmine Jacobs (Feb 6), Rod Vorkapich (Feb 8), Sladjana Gligorevic (Feb 9), Ruby Cangialosi (Feb 12), Waad Jacobs (Feb 15), Blake Bazdar (Feb 16), Susan Jacobs (Feb 18), John Semic (Feb 21), Emily Fithian (Feb 22), Ethan Imschweiler (Feb 22), Janet Krnjaic (Feb 24), Michael York (Feb 24), Steve Cashman (Feb 27), Alan Radanovic (Feb 29), Mike Sunajko

February Anniversaries
Dean & Karen Stefan (Feb 6), Ferris & Jody Atty (Feb 28)
~Bulletin Board~
ST SIMEON THE MYRRHFLOWING
The Feast of St Simeon the Myrrhflowing will be celebrated Friday, February 26, with Liturgy at 9 am.

DIOCESAN ANNUAL ASSEMBLY (VIRTUAL)
The Diocesan Annual Assembly will occur via videochat this year on Saturday, March 13, 2021. Our parish will be represented by our clergy and two officers of the parish council.

2021 STEWARDSHIP CARDS
We thank God for you all, and your commitment to Him in the form of your Time, Talents and Treasures. Take some time this week as you complete your card to consider how your offering reflects your thanksgiving to God for all that He has given you: family, kumovi, friends, life, livelihood— and most importantly—Eternal Salvation through the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ!

SERBIAN/AMERICAN CLUB 2021 DUES
Peggy Radanovic is collecting club dues once again. Please mail your dues to her at her new address (203 Community Circle, Palmyra 17078) or here at church. You may call her with questions at 717-641-4249.

ST NICHOLAS SENIORS 2021 DUES
JoAnn Filepas is collecting 2021 dues for the St Nicholas Seniors. Please mail your dues to her at (7054 Red Top Road, Harrisburg 17111). Dues are $5 for the year.

COMMISSION FOR LAND USAGE STUDY
Anyone who may be interested in participating in a commission for a land usage study of our property, please submit your name and contact information to Fr. Christopher at fr.chris@stnicholassteelton.org or by calling the parish house at 717.939.0251. 
February Charity
St. Sava School of Theology in Libertyville, IL


St. Sava School of Theology is named in memory of St. Sava, the first archbishop, teacher and enlightener of the Serbian people. On January 27th we celebrated St. Sava’s Day and it is fitting that we also offer support to the theological seminary in the US named for him. The main mission and goal of the school is to provide religious education and train candidates for the Holy Priesthood in the Serbian Orthodox Church specifically as well as interested Orthodox Christian individuals of other ethnic jurisdictions. St. Save School is the educational center for individuals committed to serving the Serbian Orthodox Church and her people in a multi-lingual environment. The school presently offers study leading to the Bachelor of Divinity Degree. Graduate level programs of study are also being developed at the School and in conjunction with other institutions. Funding is provided by an annual budget proposed by the School and adopted and implemented by the Central Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the US and Canada. Financial support is sought from all the Serbian Orthodox Dioceses and church congregations. More information about the School’s programs, plans and course of study may be found at the diocesan website at the following link:  http://www.serborth.org/education.html 

Stewardship Reflection
Today, the Gospel reading about the Publican and the Pharisee focuses on humility. In reflecting on these verses, we are asked to consider which person do we typically act like? Are we humble in our actions with family, at work, with fellow parishioners? In Father Alexander Schmemann's book entitled Great Lent-Journey to Pascha - he says "Humility - be it individual or corporate, ethnic or national - is viewed as a sign of weakness, as something unbecoming of real man. Even our Churches - are they not imbued with the same spirit of the Pharisee? Do we not want our every contribution. every good deed, all that we do for the Church to be acknowledged, praised and publicized?"

God asks us to consider our Stewardship through prayer and focus on how we will be judged as stewards of what He provides. This should be done with humility, between the Steward and God.
 
Matthew 6:1-4 
"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 
 
Данашње Јеванђеље је о Мирату и Фарисеју као и о понизности - смирењу. Када размишњамо о прочитаном Јеванђељу и ми треба да се се запитамо какви ссмо као људи. Да ли смо смирени када је у питању породица , посао и са свим парохијанима које срећемо? У књизи оца Александра Шмемана која се зове Велики Пост- Пут ка Васкрсењу", он каже да је понизност- смирење , било да је лично или заједничко , етичко или начионално- углавном се види као знак слабости , као неко ко престаје да буде човек. Чак и наше Цркве - нису ли ипињене истим духом као и Фарисеј? Ми желимо да сваки наш прилог , сваки наш рад буде јавно похваљен , штампан у билтенима итд.

Бог од нас тражи да наше Старатељство буде кроз молитву и да обратимо пажњу како ће мо бити осуђени као старатељи онога што је ОН дао. Ово би требало да буде у понизности-смирењу , да буде између Старатеља и Бога.
 
Матеј 6: 1-4
Пазите да правду своју не чините пред људима да вас они виде; иначе плате немате од оца својега који је на небесима. Кад дакле дајеш милостињу, не труди пред собом, као што чине лицемјери по зборницама и по улицама да их хвале људи. Заисто вам кажем: примили су плату своју. А ти кад дајеш милостињу, да не зна љевака твоја што чини десница твоја. Тако да буде милостиња твоја тајна; и отац твој који види тајно, платиће теби јавно. 
 

Our Annual Stewardship drive is beginning this week. You will receive a mailing containing the annual statements from 2020, as well as your new Stewardship Commitment Card for 2021. Please fill it out and return it as soon as possible.

We thank God for you all, and your commitment to Him in the form of your Time, Talents and Treasures. Take some time this week to consider how your offering reflects your thanksgiving to God for all that He has given you: family, kumovi, friends, life, livelihood— and most importantly—Eternal Salvation through the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ!