A Pharisee and a Publican
A Pharisee and a Publican
Lecture given by Beinsa Douno
October 5, 1914, Sofia
"Two men went up into temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector". Luke 18:10
Maybe you will ask what is strange about two men, one a Pharisee and the other a publican, entering a temple. Indeed, there is nothing strange for those who understand what is going on, but for those who do not understand, everything is strange. For those who understand, everything has a meaning. For those who cannot understand, everything is senseless.
I will take the Pharisee and the publican as a topic of my lecture today. These two persons are prominent representatives of a very old culture. Let us compare their distinguishing features in parallel to shed light on their customs and spiritual character.
The word "Pharisee" comes from the Hebrew word "parash," which means to divide. There is a word in Arabic – "farsi", which has the same root and means something perfect in form; to know a language "farsi" means to know it very well. Jesus presented two distinctive characters in this chapter. A talented artist who possesses knowledge about humans would paint these two types with all their distinguishing features, and this perfect painting would deserve to be placed in every house as an example to us. What are the pronounced features of the Pharisee and the publican? It is not enough just to say: "He is a Pharisee" or "He is a publican." We should know their physical features, their faces, their hands, the structure of their bodies, and how their minds work as well. After that, we should find out specifically what their souls are like. This is the only way we can clarify the idea embedded in the text and use it. Jesus was a great artist, as He pointed out two distinguishing features of those two human types and by them I will describe the Pharisee and the publican.
However, you will say: "How can you describe a person by only a few words which were said about him?" This is knowledge. One can be described. There are scientists who deal with comparative anatomy and study animal structures. If you give them the smallest part of an ancient animal, they will describe its height, they will juxtapose all its bones, fix its muscles and tendons and by this means, they will rebuild an extinct kind. If you give an expert botanist just one leaf from a plant, he will be able to give you a description of the tree it comes from. Using the same method, I will try to describe the Pharisee and the publican and to show you what they are like.
You will say: "What is common between those two, who lived two thousand years ago?" There are two types of people living in the world – the publican and the Pharisee. Many others have come out of those two human types, but the publican and the Pharisee are the primary ones. You belong to one of the two types – no matter if you are a priest, a nobleman, a scientist, a philosopher, male or female. These two types weave into each other and show up in the lives of everyone. They will always be the distinguishing types in the human history. The art of Jesus lies precisely in the fact that He has successfully illustrated and presented the images of those two types using only a few words.
The outer image of the Pharisee is decent. He is seemly, stalwart and slender, with a height of 175-180 centimeters, which is above average. His hands and fingers are longish. His thumb is long and symmetrical, which is a sign of well-developed views, presence of will and intelligence. The forefinger is equal to the ring finger, indicating that when an idea comes to his mind he develops it as far as possible. His digestive system is in order, he is sober in eating and drinking, he does not have the weakness of gluttony and he has exquisite tastes. His waist is slender. Age: he has passed four decades and he is in the fifth decade, i.e. he has turned 45 years. His shoulders are rotund, his face – oblong and pear-shape, which indicates a developed nervous system. The lower jaw is correctly formed, with a beard – elongated and peaked, which is a sign of a person quick to understand and quick-witted. His mouth is average in size, the lips – not too thick or thin. Their ends stand a little higher, with a smile of disdain, as if saying: "The people are rabble." But he never shows his inner contempt. His eyes are ash-gray. The eyebrows are arched, bent down a little like the branches of an old tree – a person, who has lived a long time and has life experience. His forehead is nice, very high, bulged out at its base above the nose, which is a sign of a person with strong individuality, an observant and practical mind. The temporal bones are of average development. The ears are regular and closely stuck to his head, which is a sign of a material order. The hair of his beard seems a little bit sparse and reddish – a sign of impulse and persistence. The head is knobby, around 56-60 centimeters in circumference around the ears with highly developed and lofty parietal bones – a sign of a person with high self-control, self-esteem and haughtiness; exacting and conceited. He has a sense of religion, but it is one-sided; he shows charity, but only to himself and to those close to him. His face is pale, white, with a Greek-Roman type of nose.
He is a man of aesthetic taste, but without poetry and love for Nature, for the lofty and the ideal. A person with strong faith, but faith in his mind only; with big hope, but hope based on his strength. He has a religion, but in this religion he respects and worships only himself. If we come into his temple, we will see that not the image of Jesus Christ is in the most prominent place, but his own portrait. In the place of the Holy Virgin, John the Baptist, and the other saints we will find arranged his ancestors and grandparents, to whom he burns incense and offers up a prayer: "Our family is glorious and great." He is an intelligent man, who has accumulated knowledge of life; he is well grounded in Jewish Cabbala and well acquainted with the principles of his civilization. If he lived in our age, he would have the reputation of a great writer, philosopher, painter, political or religious leader.
Why did Christ bring out this type of a person? What is wrong with his prayer? We observe in the Pharisee a philosophy, which is an anachronism – he is a man living only with his past, omitting the present and the future; like a girl or a boy, he is in love with his own portrait and wherever he goes, he sees only it. This is amazing when one is in love with one's own image!
Once I observed a Bulgarian poet. He was sitting in the most prominent position, and there was a mirror nearby. He began to smoke, turned around and looked himself in the mirror, as if he were saying to himself: "How beautiful I am, I am making an impression on others." He began to smoke again and pose in front of the mirror. If one day this mirror is destroyed, his happiness will be destroyed too.
The Pharisee looks like this type, being in love with himself. Moreover, you can see how interesting his words are whenever he turns to God: "Lord, thank you that I am not like others. I am something more." However, his philosophy at this point is exactly wrong, because God has created all human beings. "I am not like others." But who are you? Are you an angel? No, you are not. You are made from the same dust and in your veins flows the same blood. He lies both to himself and to God. This is the first lie he uses. And the Lord says to him: "You are not telling the Truth."
The statement of the Pharisee is negative: he is not comparing himself with the beings who are above him, such as angels, but with the low-life, with the criminals, and thus he concludes that he is not like them. Let us assume that I compare myself with the brutes and I say: "Thank you Lord that I am not like these oxen, donkeys, curs, lizards, snakes." What kind of a comparison can I make with them? This is a weak feature found in all people. Years ago, there was a tendency in high school and university students to investigate the lives of great writers, for example Shakespeare, and took on their shortcomings, since they did not possess their positive features. "Wait, do I have these shortcomings too?" and when they found them in themselves they would say, "I am a genius like Shakespeare." They investigated, for example, the character of Sheller, looked for one of his eccentric features and when they found it, they would say: "I am like Sheller." After looking at a whole line of people they would say: "We are great people." Yes, you are great, but in negative sense: great people who have something missing. I prefer someone who has nothing, because he has nothing to give and nothing to take.
The Pharisee makes a comparison too, and he says: "Thank you Lord that I am not like the other man, who is a robber." The Lord replies to him: "If I have placed you in his shoes, what would you be?" Once an angel looked from Heaven, saw how one man sinned and turned to the Lord: "How can You tolerate this low creature? If I were You, I would rid the Earth of him." God sent the angel to the Earth, incarnated and placed him in the same position, but the angel sinned twice as much as that man he had judged. That is why one should not judge others for what they do. If one were in their place, this one would sin too.
Many people came to me talking like this: "We are not so bad. We are taught well because we come from excellent families." I have no doubt in your words, I believe you deep in my soul. We are all from excellent families and I accept this. However, our ancestors were not as noble as we think they were. More than a few of them were great wasters, offenders, malefactors and villains. You and I are carrying now the testimony that God has written about them. Things may look somewhat specious from outside, but inside they have no relevant contents. Our ancestors were not as pure as I assume, and this is shown by those poor features which we have inherited from them and which we manifest every day at least twice. If your grandmother and grandfather, your father and mother were like angels, where did those features and bad deeds in your life come from? If you put a little bit of bitterness or poison in a liquid, it will be noticed. It will be seen that there is something bad in the good.
People with the Pharisee's philosophy will call themselves conservative; they are members of the conservative party, they are people who have a high opinion of themselves. It is not bad to have a high opinion of yourself, if it is correct and not mixed with bitterness. The real conservative and regulator in Nature is nitrogen, which stops things from burning and suffocates life. Nitrogen is the oldest and the most balanced element in Nature. However, if it were the only thing in Nature, everything would be dead. Nevertheless, the organic world should thank nitrogen a lot.
The Pharisee addresses the Lord, but not at all to ask for His help to smooth out some roughness in his character. He only gives thanks that he is not like others, like a blasphemer, robber, murderer and adulterer. Just as a scribes and philosopher, he should find out what causes the blasphemy, robbery, murder and adultery. When we meet some people who are beneath us, according to the Teaching of Jesus we should not condemn them in our souls, but learn a lesson. We should find the causes that bring them to this low condition, and if we have taken on their habits, we should change. Because God who placed the great laws in life says: "Judge not, that you be not judged." There is a deep sense in these words and those who have comprehended them may reach to the great law of human prosperity.
Contemporary zoologists who examine animals have given to the world many valuable things, but no one has examined the deep causes that created them. Why, for example, do some of them have horns, but others do not? Why do some of them crawl, but others walk on all fours? Why do some of them eat meat, but others graze? Why are they deprived of human intelligence? There are deep and reasonable causes for this, which are not by chance, as someone may think. When people understand these deep causes, they will come to that intelligent philosophy on which people will build the future structure of the society – "the dawn of a new civilization."
The entire contemporary civilization shares the outlook of the Pharisee. It is a pharisaic civilization. This civilization, where people are distinguished in form, appearance, protocol, was born long ago in Egypt, India, Babylon, China, Persia, Judah, Greece and Rome. It is in Europe today too, dressed in a beautiful Christian mantle. I am not saying that it is something bad in principle, but I say that the form should always have content. Otherwise the form remains just as a simple shell, in which only parasites can live. People say: "He has marvelous eyes." So what? "They are marvelous." Why are they marvelous? "They are sparkling, they are pleasant to look at." Why exactly are they pleasant? Someone's nose is nice, presentable. In what exactly is it nice? His mouth is nice, presentable. How? People grasp for something that is not possible to express; namely that in the black eyes, or in the blue eyes, or in the gray, greenish, brown eyes there is a strain of hidden strengths. If a person with black eyes looks at you, you would have a certain thought; if a person with brown eyes looks at you – you would have a certain mood and so on. People with blue eyes are cool. They are like the sky: clean, but cool and cold. These people are not for the Earth. There is faith in them, but they were born before their time. Perhaps, they are those who will come after us. I am talking about the blue eyes, which are a mark of Heaven. The legend tells us that Jesus has such eyes.
People say about someone: "His mouth is beautiful like a rose." What is the human mouth? It expresses the human heart; it shows whether one is kind-hearted or hard-hearted. It shows how intense and frank a person is. Those who have a great appetite, you may notice that their lips are too thick. It is a physiological law. More blood is rushing there, that is why they are thicker and reddish. When these people taste a meal, they will say: "Oh, this is great!" And a delicate, almost imperceptible smile will flash on their faces. This announces that their soul is in that mood.
If we look at a person with a nice nose, it is a token of human intelligence and reason. Whether the nose is straight or curved, Roman or Greek type – there is a deep meaning in it. The outside appearance of the face is important; furthermore, it reveals the outer life of the person too. If we look at a human face in details and see that it lacks symmetry, that one eyebrow is not like the other and protrudes more than the other, this shows some instability of the character. If you draw a straight line, you will see whether the nose is in the right place. It is a barometer, a calorimeter, which shows the state of the mind. When an engineer drives a steam engine, there is a gauge that shows the atmospheric pressure in the boiler. According to what it shows, engineers put in more coal to increase the pressure or, if it is too much, they decrease it. Have you ever made an effort to try, like an engineer, to see what the condition of your steam is, that is your heart? God gave you a nose for this. Go to the mirror, ask your mind and it will tell you in what condition your heart is.
When you look at your eyes, you will see in what condition your soul is. The only ones that never lie and cannot fool us are our eyes. That is why when a person sometimes wants to lie, he closes his eyes or hides them by hand. A boy realizes that his mother will catch him in lie when she looks at it, so he covers his eyes.
While the Pharisee was praying, Jesus was looking at him and talking to him: "Your soul is polluted, your ancestors did not live such a pure life as you imagine. You think that you are not like others but you were the same in the past, and even now you are not far from their level." It does not matter how we interpret this fact; whether according to the Hindu teaching of reincarnation or the Egyptian teaching of transmigration of the soul, or according to the Cabbala occult doctrine of emanation and refinement of the soul, or according to the contemporary doctrine of heredity. These doctrines and theories serve as a handbook for us to clarify the appearance of human life and to make it more understandable. However, the main principle, based in everything is the same every time, no matter how we explain and interpret its acts. The great law of cause and effect, the record of our deeds and their consequences never lies; it always speaks Absolute Truth. If you are good, it is written in the book of life that you are good; if you are bad, it is written that you are bad. If you speak truth, it is written in the book of life that you speak truth; if you lie, it is written that you lie. If you help your neighbors, self-sacrifice for the nation, work for the welfare of humanity, serve God in Love – this is written in the book of life. If you ravish your neighbor, commit treason, impede development of humankind, or if you are disloyal to God – this is written in the same book, too. God writes ruthlessly his evidence for the human acts: on the forehead, on the top of the nose, on the mouth, face, head, hands, fingers and other parts of the human body – every bone is an evidence for or against us.
We read the history of human life every day. The lives of our ancestors are recorded in the previous pages. For some of them it was written that they were horrible offenders, thieves, robbers. When we open this book and trace the line from which Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon and many others came, we find out that their deeds were fully recorded. We find out that Abraham was a fair man, very clever, with a wide heart, with great faith, a man of spirit, who became acquainted with the deep wisdom of God's ordinance for the great future of humanity. We can find out that Jacob, at the beginning, was a double-dealer, sly, an egotist, who by deceit and fraud succeeded to deprive his brother of his birthright. A change came about after he had served his uncle Laban fourteen years for his two daughters. He was about thirty-three and only then did a change happen with him for the better. We know that David was a brave, resolute man with a naturally excellent and poetic mind, but he had a specific weakness toward beautiful women. He took Uriah's wife by fraud and from that day his trials began. The brave prophet Nathan did not hesitate to condemn him straight to his face and to show him the bad consequences that the karmic law will write about him in its book for future posterity. For Solomon it is said that he had an excellent philosophical mind, a good, but corrupted heart, with excessively strong feelings and lusts, vain and weak-willed. He was a first-class epicure in eating, drinking and pleasure with women.
Jesus knew this. He knew how his family lived and when people called him "Good Teacher", He objected: "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, and that is God." He wanted to say: "The people I come from are not as noble as you think, because God has another measure, which you miss. God demands absolute purity in every aspect. The majority of them did not live in a way pleasing to real God, Whose Will I am fulfilling." That is why He turns to the Pharisee and tells him: "You lie to yourself, people and God. Many of your ancestors did wrong, and that is why you cannot say: "I am not like them." Because there is no humility in your soul, your prayers cannot be received and you cannot be acquitted. You the Pharisee have distorted God's law by putting hypocrisy over it as a cover. Stop showing yourself as someone, that you are not, because God cannot be deceived by your appearance. He looks into your heart and He judges you according to it."
Let us now turn to the other type – the publican. We have a man of middle height, on the plump side, his legs are rather short, his hands are thick, fingers – thick too and tapered, face – knobby; stomach – well developed, since he enjoys his food and drink too much. "A long way lies ahead, and I should have food." He philosophizes in this way and that is why he becomes a publican. He will beg from here, take from there and pilfer. He fills up his bag. "You are doing like me; pardon me, you may consider it as a pilferage, but I need it. If you do not want to give it to me, I will take it by force, or I will steal it." As I said, the publican has a round face with thick eyebrows and a beard, which is wide from below. What he undertakes, he does it successfully. He is between forty, forty-five years of age. His beard and mustache are with black bushy hair, which is a sign of great ardor. His nose is well built, rather short, thick, wide at its ends: a sign of a good respiratory system. A man of feelings, impulsive like a child, he always can express his joy; when he gulps down a half-kilogram of wine, he jumps for joy; when he sobers up, he cries because his wife is ill. The temporal bones are strongly developed in him. The ears are large, almost like Tolstoy's ears: he is a person who steals, takes, but who also gives. "My father and mother stole, so let me give to people, to give my parents a break, and let us hope that God will forgive our sins". He has brown eyes – a sign of natural softness and good nature, which are waiting for their time of manifestation. A head – well built, like the head of Socrates. The publican possesses perfectly developed familial and communal feelings, strong religious feeling, helpful sense of charity and the right meaning of life, as well as a mind of great capacity, devoid of sophistry, well developed conscience to show him his mistakes and he does not feel shy to confess them to God, people and himself. He does not have a snobbish view of his lineage. He has a religion, but he has placed there the image of a Good God, not his own image. He always believes that this Good Lord will lead him towards Light. He has more faith in God than in himself. He has a right philosophy: he does not compare himself to those lower than him, like thieves and villains, but says: "God, when I look at You, at the angels and the saints, then what am I? I should rise up higher to be like You. I am a sinner; my ancestors and I did not become real persons. I eat and drink like a pig. Forgive me that I cannot make use of the good, which You have given to me."
And what does Christ say? A person who realizes his mistakes has a lofty ideal; one day the publican will surpass the Pharisee. How is that possible? The rich rely on their rents and income; they do not work, but only discuss politics and public life. Others, who get up early in the morning, work ten hours per day, have failure after failure in their lives, but persist and acquire knowledge, will become prominent people some years later.
Now, I am sorry to say, but both types are represented among you. After Christ has showed these two opposites, I say – take the good from both and create the noble character of the Pharisee and the publican simultaneously. Create a third human type – of the Christian, of the New person. This is my thought.
You say: "Am I so sinful? How can I be a Pharisee? You offend me." I will tell you the truth. When unhappiness comes to your life, you say: "Why, God, this unhappiness? There are others who are bigger sinners than I am." Then are you not in the place of the Pharisee – a person who disputes with God? The Lord will say: "You are very pious, but do you know how outrageous your forefathers were, and how at one time you partnered with them? Right here there is a bill, signed a long time ago. You should pay it." "But I do not remember". "That means nothing; it is recorded in My book. It does not lie."
When unhappiness comes to you, be thankful and say: "It is a little." Then you are in the place of the publican. And Christ will tell you: "You will go to the Father's house."
Sometimes you condemnthe Pharisees: "They are insincere people." But do you know that you who condemn the Pharisees are the contemporary Pharisees? Learn your lesson from the Pharisee – do not admit his faults, or if you have them, root them out, so that you will not follow the path of negative life. You have no need for what your grandfather, grandmother, father, and mother had.
You know the tale about the geese that someone was driving toward a town. The geese told a traveler: "Our master is treating us so shamefully, he does not know that our ancestors set Rome free at one time." "But what were you doing at that time?", asked the traveler. "Nothing." "Then you deserve to be boiled in a pot."
Your grandfather and father were men of high rank, noble persons, but who are you? If you do not have a noble character, you should attain it. Your grandfather and father might have left you a certain capital, but you can ruin it or waste it.
If we examine the religious view of life, there are religious Pharisees: "I am from the Orthodox Church", "I am from the Evangelical Church", "I am from the Catholic Church", I am a free thinker." I am glad that you are Orthodox, Evangelical, Catholic or a free thinker, but do you have the noble characteristics of Jesus? "I do not have them." So, you are neither Orthodox nor Evangelical, you are no one. Attain them to become such a person. "But I am a free thinker." Do you have the noble characteristics of free thinkers? By a free thinker I understand a friend of Truth. If you are not such a person, you are a first class liar.
Often people say: "You are a great person." People in today's society gather by threes and fours somewhere and begin to boast of their lineage and distinctions: "We read your work and we thoroughly enjoyed it." But when the author leaves, they start saying: "He is a first class fool." When the second leaves, they tell the same about him. The third leaves and he is the same according to the rest. When the last remains, he, of course, will not say anything bad about himself. Do not deceive yourself with what people say about you, because they may tell many unpleasant things. No one speaks the truth. Your foes will tell you: "You are a villain, a liar, a rascal." They would rather tell the truth than someone who flatters you, saying: "You are noble." You may be good, but not that good; do not think that you are outstanding. Sometimes you walk and wave with hands and a walking stick as though you have just solved a certain great problem like Archimedes. You think that there is no one like you. If you are a publican, you will say to yourself: "I will rule the world." Christ says: "Listen, some years ago yours ancestors ruled and I remember, it is written in my notebook that they committed crimes. You might go in this way too, do not be so sure of yourself."
That is why, in whatever situation you are, you should have God, the Lord, as the only ideal. We will meet many bitter things in the world. We may see a friend of ours who loves us and will tell us something that is true. I do not say that we should suspect everyone to be a liar. But if a hundred people praise you, perhaps only three of them will tell you the truth properly. Others will tell you the truth either very rudely or by flattery – these are two extremes. Truth is not to be found there, but in the middle road, by taking the good features both of the Pharisee (his mind of great capacity, his understanding and habits) and of the publican (his charity, deep religiousness and inner awareness of his mistakes and striving to correct his life).
The publican and the Pharisee may be found in families too: the husband may represent the Pharisee, the wife – the publican. The husband – a person of elevated lineage, rich, shapely, handsome, a "noble man" as people call him; and the wife who is from a simple family, her father and grandfather are illiterate people, simpletons. The husband looks at her and asks: "Do you know of what status I brought you out?" And she cowers. She cannot do anything else, but she will cower and cook. Every time when the Pharisee's finger indicates that she did not cook well, this will make her cry and obey him. "I do not want such a simple-minded, unmannerly woman. I do not want such a publican in my house."
Elsewhere the wife is the Pharisee and the husband is the publican. She comes from a rich family; her father elevated her husband, who was his apprentice. "Do you not know with what goodwill I have taken you? You did not know how to dress yourself, how to tie your necktie, how to blow your nose." These Pharisees are awful formalists, when they begin to keep lists.
Now both of them should correct their lives. When Christ says that the publican is more justified than the Pharisee, He wants to point out that the publican is not completely right as well, but his thoughts about life and godly order are better than those of the Pharisee. Christ wants to imply that some day the publican will be given a higher position than the Pharisee. If you do not wish to be humble, God will humble you, because He humbles the proud and lifts up the meek. Haughtiness and meekness are synonyms of these two types of people, the Pharisee and the publican.
You do not know what can happen to you in the future. All your noble features and all your ancestors cannot save you. Some years ago in England, in London I think, one of the richest and most prominent Englishmen went into his vault to look at his treasure and by mischance locked the door behind him, leaving the key outside. After he had examined all his wealth and enjoyed it, he wanted to go out, but he realized that he was locked in. He stayed for two, three days. All around him was gold, great wealth, but he could neither get out nor call for help. At last, he had to yield up his soul after leaving the following message: "If there were someone to give me even a crust of bread, I would give him half of my wealth."
If one day it happens that you are locked like that rich man in your ancestors' vaults, a crust of bread may save you. That is why Christ says: "The bread can save you, but not these things for which you are fighting." Do you know that many people die in this way, closed in themselves? People who are desperate commit suicide. And who are those who commit suicide? Not the publicans, but the Pharisees. Poets, artists and political leaders say: "The world cannot value us, cannot appreciate our works, our writings, our paintings." And they kill themselves. Always the Pharisees, the noble thinkers with finely formed faces and red beards, commit suicide.
The Pharisees in Bulgaria do not have red beards. I am talking about Jewish Pharisees whom I describe. I would describe our Pharisees in another way. Although they look like the Jewish, they differ in some aspects. But because my speech is not about the Bulgarian, but about the Jewish Pharisees, you will look for this type of people in Bulgaria and make your own conclusions. How will you look for them? The point of my lecture is to apply this practically in your life.
Modern people preach that a person should be willful in order to succeed. The will can act in three different ways: first, it can be a self-will. Second, it can be a will, which takes into account only the interests of the nation. Third, it can be a will, which takes into account the common interests of the society, the nation and God. This last will that includes every obligation we have to this world and there is no force that can entice us from our duty, this will is good. Will to work for the glory of God and people, for the nation, for your family and for the advancement of your character – this is will! People say: "You should have a noble mind." A mind that understands its attitude to God, a mind that is busy to put into practice its elevated thoughts, this is a noble mind. You all have it in an embryo form. "But my nose is not as I want it to be." It will develop. Look at the little birds in a nest. They still do not have plumage, but how they wait for their mother, and when she appears, they open their mouths, saying: "Churrrk!" – and the mother puts a worm into their beaks. The more times the little birds say "churrrk", the more worms fall into their beaks. Soon their wings begin to grow and in the end, they fly away.
You should follow the same rule: open your mouth to pray. If you do not open it, you are Pharisees, and Christ will tell you: "The world is not for you, the Kingdom of God is not for you, the future is not for you." Christ means this, when He says it. There are people who do not like to open their mouths; they keep silent. I understand that you should keep silent, but when? When you are angry, when you wish to insult someone, when you envy. But, when you are joyful, when you should say a comforting word, open your mouth and say it. Do you open your mouth, when you bring up children? This is the question that is in front of you. You bring up your children like Pharisees: not allowing them to touch things to avoid getting dirty; they should not even get their hands wet by themselves. The mother will wash them. The father will buy them new shoes, watches, chains. The father is to become a slave of these Pharisees. When he comes back in the evening, they sulk: "We want this, we want that, quickly!" and he cowers. Why does Christ say: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees!" Both at home, with our children, and in the churches, everywhere, we show the character of the Pharisee and we wonder why the Kingdom of God is not coming. On top of all that we reproach: "Good-for-nothing world, good-for-nothing society, priests are such and such, teachers are bad, rulers are bad", but the reproaching person is a saint. And you are the same as that one who reproaches. Stop and leave these things, because your mother is with you. As soon as you say "churrrk", you will have food.
These things seem to be funny, but they are great truths. They are small things, but we should learn a lesson from this example. In comparison with the Divine life we are paupers and God constantly sends us the Mother with the worms. Greet your Mother, because she is bringing food to you. How many places has she visited until she could find one worm! How can we thank God, Who thinks of us every day and supplies us with food? We can say "churrrk" every morning, that is, pray to Him. Do you know what that means? It has a deep meaning. What does it contain? If you knew it, you would know the words that Heaven Itself speaks. It is a very short word "churrrk", but full of content.
And you are in the temple now. Christ turns to you with the question: "How do you pray, like the Pharisee or like the publican?" How will you go into the world and begin to work – like the Pharisee or like the publican? You are from the same dust. But Christ wants to tell us not to be Pharisees. My head is about ready to burst from these Pharisees. If there is anything disturbing in the world, it is these Pharisees. "But someone has such features." I know, but what should I do? Wait for me to clean myself first, and then others. Let me clean off my own lice and then the lice of others. Otherwise, if I am around someone who has fewer lice than I have, he will catch them from me. "But we should educate him." Wait for me to educate myself first. "But we should preach." If I begin to preach before the right time, I will mislead people. "Go out and say this and that." What should I say? Should I lie to people? When you go out you should say the Great Truth both with words and by your own way of living. Christ infers something here. When we begin to teach, we should do it both with words and with our life.
I like those modern teachers who, teaching a certain topic (physics, chemistry) begin right away with experiments: when oxygen is added in this way, it results in that. When you go into the carpenter's workshop, the teacher relates theory to practice. If you go to a tailor's shop, it is the same. Christ says to Christians: "Go and take your yardstick and scissors." Someone should start with a needle and later with the scissors. What are the scissors? They are your tongues. When you begin to cut and sew, there are no better scissors than your tongues. When you begin to cut left and right without thinking, your scissors are not at the right place. "Should we not speak?" You should, but at the right place. If you do not speak at the right place, you cut without thinking. You will waste the cloth. I do not tell all this to discourage you. I do not want to say that you were born Pharisees, but that you have the mind frame of a Pharisee. Everyone has it. It is good to have it to a certain degree. But when you begin to say, "God, thank you that I am not like others" – the Pharisee is alive in you and it is hard to free yourself from him. He lives in the scruff of the neck, on top of the head, in the ears, in the head, in the nose, in the inner part of the eyes. Where can you find the Pharisee? In all your features and deeds.
So, Christ is now asking us about the most correct way, in which we can offer our prayer to God. He understands "prayer" in a broad meaning – to be beneficial for social life. Some think that a true prayer can only be found in a church. Look at the prayer, which you can offer in the church. Does it relate to your family life, can it help you? You should find this church, where is it located? The teacher first teaches his students certain things, and after that he leaves them alone to solve the problem, to find the relations to certain laws. It is said in the Epistles: "You are the temple of God." If we were the temples of God, whenever we go into our hidden place before God, how should we enter? If we enter like the Pharisee, Christ will say to us: "You have not reached your goal." If we enter like the publican and confess our mistakes, if we promise that we will correct them, we will succeed and we will hear the answer of Christ: "You are justified, you have a future."
If a teacher finds some mistakes in the notebook of a student, the student should not say: "How petty he is – I had only three mistakes!" He might smudge it, or cross out four or five words, and the student would say: "He spoiled my notebook." Yes, but if you want to be perfect, you should thank him for paying attention to your mistakes, because these three mistakes could become more. Correct them; do not leave them, because a mistake is like a louse. If you leave it, it can reproduce into a thousand in a week. One mistake is enough to send a person to the whipping post. According to the same law one virtue only can raise you in Heaven and put you among the angels. If you create suitable conditions, one wrong act can take you down. If the act is good, it can raise you up. Therefore, pay attention to each virtue and each error of yours. If there is one virtue in a person who has lived a depraved life, it can serve as a thin string in the rough sea of life, which, if this person takes it, can lead him/her to the land. Therefore, the final mistake is very bad, as it can destroy a person. Similarly, the final virtue is very powerful as it can save a person. These are the things, which can change our lives. This is a law. That is why Christ says: "Do not be careless."
There were more noble features in the Pharisee than in the publican. He was in many aspects in a higher position, but he had one final mistake – pride, which could drag him down to hell. The publican was a big sinner, but he had one final virtue – humility, and he said: "I will work for my salvation." That is why God gave a blessing to him, because he had a hope that he would become better in the future.
I am asking you this morning, where are you – in your final mistake or in your final virtue? If you are in your final mistake – I am sorry for you. Be careful, you are at a very dangerous place in life. If you are in your final virtue, you are at a safe place and I congratulate you. You are on a solid rock. Keep this final virtue and Christ will walk with you.
Translated by: Stephan Koparanov, Dorothea Koparanova
Checked by: Malinka Koparanova, Maria Braikova
Edited in English by: Ed Cox, USA
All members of our translation team work for free and on a voluntary basis.
We will appreciate any assistance, especially in editing, publishing and distributing these translations.
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