“JUSTIFIED IN THE JUST ONE”
Saint Luke 18. 9-14
11th Sunday after Trinity: 31 August Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
The Christ speaks parables because you are all self-righteous. You get the overly familiar story of the Pharisee and Publican once a year, whether you want it or not, because you all despise others!
It’s so easy to despise truth because it cuts just a little too deeply. It’s one thing to intellectually acknowledge the veracity and purity of the Lord’s Law—the Ten Commandments—but another thing to stare honestly and heart-openly into that mirror of absolute Truth and be eviscerated. When WAS the last time you smote your breast and spoke the Kyrie—last week, same time, same station?
Jesus told this text “unto certain which trusted in themselves.” It matters not that the laser focus of His words were upon the Pharisees; the “12” and His other followers heard it all as well; and so do you.
You trust in yourselves…at least when you can even be cajoled to think about anything at all other than the rat-race, the grind, the play-time, the hobbies, politics, and accumulation schemes. There’s a reason man-centered, contemporary Christian worship, and mega-church crap is so darn popular—“old Adam sinners” are just hard wired to be narcissistic preening poppin-jays “God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, rioters, unjust, shoplifters, looters, adulterers, Hispanics and Blacks with multiple girl-friends, wives, and whores, or even as this publican, liberal…democrat.”
These two actors, Pharisee and publican, though parable personages are NOT card board cut-outs, clichés, or caricatures…they are YOU!
But unlike the outwardly rigorous Pharisee, you are so secularized Monday through Saturday, so conformed by the world & society, that you don’t even pray, fast. or give tithes (a hard 10% or more to the Kingdom’s work).
Instead, every year when you hear this parable, of quickly assenting “mentally” to the fact that your “old man” is the Hypocrite but that your new forgiven self is the blessed publican…ponder that fact and meditate on the wisdom of Christ’s Bride, Holy Mother Church’s insistence to keep this text in constant, CONSTANT, yearly rotation. You are not a one-time Pharisee “lifting up your eyes” to your own statue of self-righteousness and made-up “works;” you are a daily Pharisee!
You don’t fast your eyes from sin or your appetites from gossip, revenge, and meanness! You gorge yourselves on your own superiority and self-constructed “lawfulness.” Turn off your media outlets that constantly (by the very minute—and second) taunt you and tempt you to judge, hate, and condemn “others” and instead start helping the less fortunate and struggling—sinners though they be. Associate more with the type of people that He, Who you call your “Lord and God,” associated with and lived among!
There are no “others…” and conversely there are no good people that you can aspire to be…there are only fallen, broken, hurting and incredibly lonely people. Every one of us is both Pharisee and publican.
There is only One Who can help Who can rescue and save. Only Christ Jesus is the JUSTIFIER, the One Who makes all right—RIGHTEOUS between you and God; between you and your fellow brethren.
The publican, “standing afar off,” could do so only because Jesus allowed Himself to be “afar off” from Heaven’s fullness during His earthly visible ministry, i.e. He humbled Himself in non-use of His Divine powers and attributes. Only Jesus causes your repentance by allowing the Sanhedrin and Roman soldiers to stand Him “afar off” on Golgotha outside the city…away from proper and neat Pharisees and Lutherans. The unnamed publican could bow his head in contrition, close his eyes in prayer, and smite his breast, only because Christ bowed His sweaty, bloody and wounded Head, closed His agony-filled eyes, and prayed to The Father “forgive them,” “today you will be with Me in Paradise” “I thirst” and “it is finished!” Jesus let His own breast, and back, and feet, and hands, and head, and side be mightily smote so that your thrice-fold breast beating is now symbolic of your heart being rended rather than your flesh in hell for all eternity. You speak the confession of sin to your pastor and in your Mass preparation on Sunday mornings; you speak the Kyrie with Bartimaeus, lepers, cripples, mothers and fathers with dead children, you plead for mercy ONLY BECAUSE The Merciful One took your sin, disease, pain, sadness, and all your “otherness” and crucified it all on the Cross in, with, and under His sinless Body. By His suffering and death your Phariseeism is paid for. By His Resurrection, Ascension, and Presence in you by His Holy Word (Baptism, Absolution, Eucharist, Preachment) you are forgiven.
The greatest pain and sadness is loneliness—being solitary without friend and family. The most profound emptiness each human being feels is the lack of touch, embrace, closeness. Self-righteous sin separates and isolates. Jesus draws you to Himself, places you into His sheepfold, His Family, His Church, His very side, wounds, and heart. Jesus exalts you today at His High Altar of sacrifice, Eucharist, and forgiveness because He humbled and abased Himself at Calvary two millennia ago. And just where does the publican go at the parables end? Just where has the Holy Ghost called and gathered you this morn? “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.” The publican went home. We all want to go home. We all want to be with our beloved Father.
‘God is in His holy habitation’—font, pulpit, altar, for you in the nave that leads to the chancel—He is God Who setteth the solitary in families.’
His fast is over. The fast is over. You’re home. Come home to the feast and eat and drink all that He possesses—the righteousness of Christ.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost